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The  World's  Healthiest  Foods  are  health-promoting  foods  that  can  change  your  life. 

The  George  Mateljan  Foundation  is  a not-for-profit  foundation  with  no  commercial  interests  or 
advertising.  Our  mission  is  to  help  you  eat  and  cook  the  healthiest  way  for  optimal  health. 


The  World's  Healthiest  Foods 

100  foods  that  can  serve  as  the  basis  of  your  Healthiest  Way  of  Eating.  Links  to  the  articles  about  these  foods 
can  be  found  below.  In  addition  to  questions  about  our  foods,  we  often  get  asked  about  beverages  and 
sweeteners.  In  the  beverage  category,  waterand  green  tea  have  been  especially  popular  topics,  and  in  the 
sweetener  category,  so  have  blackstrap  molasses,  honey  and  maple  syrup. 

Of  course,  there  are  many  other  nutritious  foods  other  than  those  that  we  have  included  on  our  list  that  we  feel 
are  wonderful,  health-promoting  foods;  if  there  are  other  whole  foods  - such  as  fruits,  vegetables,  nuts/seeds, 
whole  grains,  etc  - that  you  like,  by  all  means  enjoy  them.  Just  because  a food  is  not  on  our  list  doesn't  mean 
that  we  don't  think  that  it  can  be  included  in  a diet  geared  towards  the  Healthiest  Way  of  Eating  as  long  as  it  is 
a whole,  natural,  nutrient-rich  food. 

To  find  out  why  some  of  your  favorite  nutritious  foods  are  not  included  in  our  list,  read  The  Criteria  Used  to 
Select  the  World's  Healthiest  Foods. 


Vegetables 

• Asparagus 

• Avocados 

• Beet  greens 

• Beets 

• Bell  peppers 

• Bok  choy 

• Broccoli 

• Brussels  sprouts 

• Cabbage 

• Carrots 

• Cauliflower 

• Celery 

• Collard  greens 

• Corn 

• Cucumbers 


Eggplant 

Fennel 


Garlic 


Green  beans 
Green  peas 
Kale 
Leeks 

Mushrooms,  crimini 

Mushrooms,  shiitake 

Mustard  greens 

Olive  oil,  extra  virgin 

Olives 

Onions 

Potatoes 

Romaine  lettuce 

Sea  vegetables 

Spinach 

Squash,  summer 
Squash,  winter 
Sweet  potatoes 
Swiss  chard 
Tomatoes 
Turnip  greens 


Fruits 


Apples 

Apricots 

Bananas 

Blueberries 

Cantaloupe 

Cranberries 

Fids 

Grapefruit 

Grapes 

Kiwifruit 

Lemon/Limes 

Oranges 

Papaya 

Pears 

Pineapple 

Plums  & Prunes 

Raspberries 


Strawberries 


• Watermelon 
Seafood 

• Cod 

• Salmon 

• Sardines 

• Scallops 

• Shrimp 

• Tuna 
Nuts  & Seeds 

• Almonds 

• Cashews 

• Flaxseeds 

• Peanuts 

• Pumpkin  seeds 

• Sesame  seeds 

• Sunflower  seeds 

• Walnuts 
Beans  & Legumes 

• Black  beans 

• Dried  peas 

• Garbanzo  beans  (chickpeas) 

• Kidney  beans 

• Lentils 

• Lima  beans 

• Miso 

• Navy  beans 

• Pinto  beans 

• Soy  sauce 

• Soybeans 

• Tempeh 

• Tofu 

Poultry  & Meats 

• Beef,  grass-fed 

• Chicken,  pasture-raised 

• Lamb,  grass-fed 

• Turkey,  pasture-raised 


Eggs  & Dairy 

• Cheese,  grass-fed 


• Cow's  milk,  grass-fed 

• Eggs,  pasture-raised 

• Yogurt,  grass-fed 
Grains 

• Bariev 

• Brown  rice 

• Buckwheat 

• Millet 

• Oats 

• Quinoa 

• Rye 

• Whole  wheat 

World's  Healthiest  Herbs  & Spices 

• Basil 

• Black  pepper 

• Chili  pepper,  dried 

• Cilantro  & Coriander  seeds 

• Cinnamon,  ground 

• Cloves 

• Cumin  seeds 
. Dill 

• Ginger 

• Mustard  seeds 

• Oregano 

• Parsley 

• Peppermint 

• Rosemary 

• Sage 

• Thyme 

• Turmeric 


Asparagus 

The  fleshy  green  spears  of  asparagus  are  both  succulent  and  tender  and  have  been  considered  a delicacy  since  ancient  times. 
This  highly  prized  vegetable  arrives  with  the  coming  of  spring,  when  its  shoots  break  through  the  soil  and  reach  their  6-8  inch 
harvest  length.  In  California  the  first  crops  are  picked  as  early  as  February,  however,  their  season  generally  is  considered  to  run 
from  April  through  May.  The  growing  season  in  the  Midwest  and  East  extends  through  July. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Asparagus 

• Recent  research  has  underscored  the  value  of  careful  storage  and  speedy  consumption  of  fresh  asparagus.  The  key 
scientific  finding  here  involves  respiration  rate.  Like  all  vegetables,  asparagus  doesn't  instantly  "die"  when  it  is  picked, 
but  instead,  continues  to  engage  in  metabolic  activity.  This  metabolic  activity  includes  intake  of  oxygen,  the  breaking 
down  of  starches  and  sugars,  and  the  releasing  of  carbon  dioxide.  The  speed  at  which  these  processes  occur  is  typically 
referred  to  as  "respiration  rate."  Compared  to  most  other  vegetables,  asparagus  has  a very  high  respiration  rate.  At  60 
milligrams  of  carbon  dioxide  release  per  hour  per  100  grams  of  food  (at  a refrigerator  temperature  of  41  °F),  this  rate  is 
five  times  greater  than  the  rate  for  onions  and  potatoes;  three  times  greater  than  the  rate  for  lettuce  and  tomato;  and  twice 
as  great  as  the  rate  for  cauliflower  and  avocado.  Asparagus'  very  high  respiration  rate  makes  it  more  perishable  than  its 
fellow  vegetables,  and  also  much  more  likely  to  lose  water,  wrinkle,  and  harden.  By  wrapping  the  ends  of  the  asparagus 
in  a damp  paper  or  cloth  towel,  you  can  help  offset  asparagus'  very  high  respiration  rate  during  refrigerator  storage. 
Along  with  this  helpful  step,  you  will  want  to  consume  asparagus  within  approximately  48  hours  of  purchase. 

• Wild  asparagus  ( Asparagus  racemosus ) is  a species  of  asparagus  with  a long  history  of  use  in  India  and  other  parts  of 
Asia  as  a botanical  medicine.  Many  medicinal  qualities  of  wild  asparagus  have  been  associated  with  phytonutrients 
present  in  its  roots,  and  especially  one  type  of  phytonutrients  called  saponins.  Recent  research  has  shown  that  the  species 
of  asparagus  most  commonly  consumed  in  the  U.S.  ( Asparagus  officinalis)  also  contains  saponins,  not  only  in  its  root 
portion  put  also  in  its  shoots.  Saponins  found  in  common,  everyday  asparagus  include  asparanin  A,  sarsasapogenin,  and 
protodioscin.  Asparagus  even  contains  small  amounts  of  the  diosgenin  - one  of  the  best-studied  saponins  that  is 
especially  concentrated  in  yam.  Saponins  in  food  have  repeatedly  been  shown  to  have  anti-inflammatory  and  anti-cancer 
properties,  and  their  intake  has  also  been  associated  with  improved  blood  pressure,  improved  blood  sugar  regulation,  and 
better  control  of  blood  fat  levels. 

• You  may  have  heard  about  two  foods  — chicory  root  and  Jerusalem  artichoke  — that  are  widely  recognized  as  providing 
health  benefits  for  our  digestive  tract.  These  health  benefits  involve  a special  area  of  digestive  support  called  "prebiotics" 
offered  by  a compound  known  as  inulin.  Both  chicory  root  and  Jerusalem  artichoke  contain  rich  concentrations  of  inulin, 
a unique  type  of  carbohydrate  called  a polyfructan.  Unlike  most  other  carbs,  inulin  doesn't  get  broken  down  in  the  first 
segments  of  our  digestive  tract.  It  passes  undigested  all  the  way  to  our  large  intestine.  Once  it  arrives  at  our  large 
intestine,  it  becomes  an  ideal  food  source  for  certain  types  of  bacteria  (like  Bifidobacteria  and  Lactobacilli)  that  are 
associated  with  better  nutrient  absorption,  lower  risk  of  allergy,  and  lower  risk  of  colon  cancer.  Researchers  now  know 
that  asparagus  belongs  among  the  list  of  foods  that  contain  inulin.  While  approximately  5%  lower  in  inulin  than  chicory 
root  and  Jerusalem  artichoke,  asparagus  is  a food  that  contains  a valuable  amount  of  unique  carb  and  may  provide  our 
digestive  tract  with  some  equally  unique  health  benefits. 


Asparagus,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(180.00  grams) 

Calories:  40 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

101% 

folate 

67% 

copper 

33% 

vitamin  B 1 

24% 

selenium 

20% 

vitamin  B2 

19% 

vitamin  C 

18% 

vitamin  E 

18% 

manganese 

14% 

1 

phosphorus 

14% 

1 

fiber 

14% 

1 

potassium 

12% 

vitamin  B3 

12% 

choline 

n% 

zinc 

10% 

vitamin  A 

10% 

iron 

9% 

protein 

9% 

pantothenic  acid 

8% 

vitamin  B6 

8% 

magnesium 

6% 

calcium 

4% 

Health  Benefits 

Anti-Inflammatory  and  Anti-Oxidant  Benefits 

It's  not  surprising  to  see  asparagus  being  heralded  as  an  anti-inflammatory  food  because  it  provides  a truly  unique  combination 
of  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  Among  these  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  are  asparagus  saponins,  including  asparanin  A, 
sarsasapogenin,  protodioscin,  and  diosgenin.  One  of  these  saponins  (sarsasapogenin)  has  been  of  special  interest  in  relationship 
to  amyotrophic  lateral  sclerosis  (ALS),  also  known  as  "Lou  Gehrig's  Disease."  Even  though  ALS  is  classified  as  a chronic, 
neurodegenerative  disease  and  is  not  currently  accepted  as  an  autoimmune  disorder,  excessive,  unwanted  inflammation  may 
play  an  important  role  in  the  death  of  certain  nerve  cells  (motor  neurons)  in  ALS.  Other  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  in 
asparagus  include  the  flavonoids  quercetin,  rutin,  kaempferol  and  isorhamnetin. 

Alongside  of  these  anti-inflammatory  phytonutrients,  asparagus  provides  a wide  variety  of  antioxidant  nutrients,  including 
vitamin  C,  beta-carotene,  vitamin  E,  and  the  minerals  zinc,  manganese,  and  selenium.  In  addition  to  the  antioxidant  nutrients 
above,  this  much-loved  vegetable  may  also  contain  a valuable  amount  of  the  antioxidant  glutathione  (GSH).  GSH  is  one  of  the 
body's  best-studied  antioxidants;  it  consists  of  three  amino  acids  — glutamic  acid,  glycine,  and  cysteine  — combined  into  one 
molecule.  At  least  one  published  study  has  estimated  the  amount  of  GSH  in  fresh  asparagus  to  average  28  milligrams  per  3.5 
ounces.  Several  studies  have  compared  the  overall  antioxidant  capacity  of  asparagus  to  the  antioxidant  capacity  of  other 
vegetables,  and  the  results  for  asparagus  have  been  impressive.  Asparagus  compares  favorably  with  many  of  the  cruciferous 
vegetables  like  cabbage  and  cauliflower,  and  while  it  ranks  lower  than  some  of  the  green  leafy  vegetables  like  spinach,  it  is  still 
very  high  on  the  list  of  antioxidant  foods. 

Anti-inflammatory  and  antioxidant  nutrients  are  some  of  the  best  risk  reducers  we  know  for  common  chronic  health  problems 
including  type  2 diabetes  and  heart  disease.  These  nutrients  are  also  special  risk  reducers  in  the  case  of  certain  cancer  — a 
special  area  of  asparagus  health  benefits  that  is  covered  in  the  following  section. 

Digestive  Support 

As  described  earlier  in  our  "What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Asparagus"  section,  asparagus  is  unusual  as  a digestive  support 
food.  One  key  factor  in  this  regard  is  its  inulin  content.  Like  chicory  root  and  Jerusalem  artichoke,  asparagus  contains 
significant  amounts  of  the  nutrient  inulin.  Inulin  is  a unique  type  of  carbohydrate  called  a polyfructan,  and  in  practical  terms, 
healthcare  practitioners  often  refer  to  it  as  a "prebiotic."  Unlike  most  other  carbs,  inulin  doesn't  get  broken  down  in  the  first 
segments  of  our  digestive  tract.  It  passes  undigested  all  the  way  to  our  large  intestine.  Once  it  arrives  at  our  large  intestine,  it 
becomes  an  ideal  food  source  for  certain  types  of  bacteria  (like  Bifidobacteria  and  Lactobacilli)  that  are  associated  with  better 
nutrient  absorption,  lower  risk  of  allergy,  and  lower  risk  of  colon  cancer.  While  approximately  5%  lower  in  inulin  than  chicory 
root  and  Jerusalem  artichoke,  asparagus  is  a food  that  contains  a valuable  amount  of  this  unique  carb  and  can  help  support  our 
digestive  health  in  this  unique  way. 

Alongside  of  its  unusual  inulin  content,  asparagus  is  rich  in  fiber  (about  3 grams  per  cup,  including  about  2 grams  of  insoluble 
fiber  and  1 gram  of  soluble  fiber)  and  also  contains  a noteworthy  amount  of  protein  (about  4-5  grams  per  cup).  Both  fiber  and 
protein  help  stabilize  our  digestion  and  keep  food  moving  through  us  at  the  desirable  rate.  (By  contrast,  too  much  fat  can  slow 
down  our  digestion  rate  more  than  desired,  and  too  much  sugar  or  simple  starch  can  speed  it  up  more  than  desired.  We're  not 
surprised  to  see  species  of  asparagus  like  Asparagus  racemosus  (commonly  known  as  Shatavari)  having  a long  history  of  use 
in  treatment  of  digestive  problems  in  certain  healthcare  traditions  (like  ayurvedic  medicine),  and  it  makes  sense  to  us  that 
asparagus  be  considered  as  a great  food  for  improving  digestive  support  in  most  diets. 


Heart  Health  and  Blood  Sugar  Regulation 


While  we  have  yet  to  see  large-scale  dietary  studies  that  examine  chronic  diseases  in  humans  and  asparagus  intake,  we  would 
expect  asparagus  intake  to  show  reduced  chronic  disease  risk  in  two  particular  areas,  namely,  heart  disease  and  type  2 diabetes. 
While  there  is  some  preliminary  research  in  both  areas,  both  areas  need  more  attention  from  asparagus  researchers.  Our  desire 
to  see  more  research  in  these  areas  is  based  on  several  factors. 

First  is  the  amazing  B-vitamin  content  of  asparagus.  In  our  food  rating  system,  asparagus  emerges  as  an  excellent  source  of 
folic  acid,  vitamin  Bl,  and  vitamin  B2  as  well  as  a very  good  source  of  niacin,  choline,  vitamin  B6,  and  pantothenic  acid. 
Because  B vitamins  play  a key  role  in  the  metabolism  of  sugars  and  starches,  they  are  critical  for  healthy  blood  sugar 
management.  And  because  they  play  a key  role  in  regulation  of  homocysteine,  they  are  critical  in  heart  health  has  well. 
(Homocysteine  is  an  amino  acid,  and  when  it  reaches  excessive  levels  in  our  blood,  it  is  a strong  risk  factor  for  heart  disease.) 

Second,  along  with  its  impressive  list  of  B vitamins,  asparagus  provides  us  with  about  3 grams  of  dietary  fiber  per  cup, 
including  more  than  1 gram  of  soluble  fiber.  Intake  of  soluble  fiber  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  lower  our  risk  of  heart 
disease,  and  our  risk  of  type  2 diabetes  can  be  significantly  lowered  as  our  intake  of  dietary  fiber  increases. 

Finally,  there  is  the  anti-inflammatory/antioxidant  factor.  Heart  disease  and  type  2 diabetes  are  both  considered  chronic 
diseases  that  evolve  in  relationship  to  chronic,  excessive  inflammation  and  oxidative  stress.  The  outstanding  antioxidant  and 
anti-inflammatory  nutrient  composition  of  asparagus  would  seem  to  make  it  a no-brainer  for  inclusion  as  a risk  reducer  in  both 
of  these  chronic  disease  areas.  We  expect  future  studies  to  establish  asparagus  as  a standout  for  lowering  our  risk  of 
cardiovascular  and  blood  sugar  problems. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

As  a result  of  its  very  strong  anti-inflammatory  and  antioxidant  nutrient  composition,  we  would  definitely  expect  to  see  a food 
like  asparagus  showing  up  as  a risk  reducer  for  certain  cancers.  Chronic,  excessive  inflammation  and  chronic  oxidative  stress 
are  risk  factors  for  a variety  of  cancer  types,  and  both  unwanted  phenomena  are  related  to  deficient  dietary  intake  of  anti- 
inflammatory and  antioxidant  nutrients — exactly  the  kind  of  nutrients  that  are  especially  plentiful  in  asparagus.  Most  of  the 
studies  we've  seen  on  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  asparagus  have  been  studies  on  rats  and  mice,  or  studies  on  specific  types  of 
cancer  cells.  For  this  reason,  we  would  describe  asparagus  cancer  research  as  preliminary,  and  not  yet  validated  by  large-scale 
studies  involving  humans  and  dietary  intake.  But  the  trends  in  animal  studies  and  cell  studies  are  clear  - asparagus  and 
asparagus  extracts  can  change  the  metabolic  activity  of  cancer  cell  types,  and  these  changes  are  protective  in  nature  and  related 
to  better  regulation  of  inflammation  and  oxidative  stress.  Cancer  cells  from  the  liver  are  best-studied  in  this  regard. 

One  confusing  area  of  research  on  asparagus  and  cancer  involves  leukemia.  And  while  this  arena  has  focused  upon  enzymes 
related  to  an  amino  acid  in  asparagus,  rather  than  asparagus  itself,  we  thought  to  include  information  on  it  here  to  clarify  this 
arena  for  you  in  case  you  had  come  across  information  on  this  topic. 

Leukemia  is  a type  of  cancer  involving  the  bone  marrow  and  its  production  of  white  blood  cells.  In  leukemia,  white  blood  cells 
are  not  produced  in  a normal  way  and  do  not  behave  in  a normal  way,  and  for  these  reasons  are  called  leukemia  cells.  One 
unusual  aspect  of  leukemia  cells  is  their  need  to  obtain  a specific  amino  acid  called  asparagine  from  other  cells  or  from  the 
fluid  portion  of  the  blood.  If  leukemia  cells  can  be  prevented  from  obtaining  asparagine,  they  can  sometimes  have  difficulty 
surviving.  In  the  mid-1950's  and  1960's,  researchers  discovered  that  the  injection  of  an  enzyme  called  asparaginase  into 
persons  diagnosed  with  leukemia  could  sometimes  result  in  decreased  levels  of  blood  asparagine  in  the  blood  and  selective 
destruction  of  leukemia  cells  through  asparagine  deprivation.  Prescription  injection  of  asparaginase  enzymes  is  still  used  in 
treatment  of  acute  lymphoblastic  leukemia  (ALL).  Asparagus  has  become  entangled  in  this  fascinating  set  of  events  involving 
leukemia  because  the  name  of  the  amino  acid  "asparagine"  and  the  name  of  the  enzyme  "asparaginase"  clearly  imply  a 
connection  with  asparagus.  Both  the  amino  acid  and  the  enzyme  are  present  in  asparagus,  just  as  their  names  imply.  However, 
we  are  not  aware  of  any  research  showing  a treatment  connection  between  leukemia  and  dietary  intake  of  asparagus.  The  only 
research  we've  seen  involves  injection  of  the  purified,  prescription  enzyme  medication.  In  addition,  we  know  that 
pharmaceutical  companies  do  not  use  asparagus  as  a source  of  the  asparaginase  enzyme,  but  rather,  rely  on  bacteria  as  their 
enzyme  production  source. 

Description 

Asparagus  is  a perennial  garden  plant  belonging  to  the  Lily  family  ( Liliaceae ).  While  approximately  300  varieties  of  asparagus 
have  been  noted,  only  20  are  edible. 

Asparagus,  its  fleshy  spears  topped  with  bud-like  compact  heads,  is  often  thought  of  as  a luxury  vegetable,  prized  for  its 
succulent  taste  and  tender  texture.  It  is  harvested  in  the  spring  when  it  is  6 to  8 inches  tall.  While  the  most  common  variety  of 
asparagus  is  green  in  color,  two  other  edible  varieties  are  available.  White  asparagus,  with  its  more  delicate  flavor  and  tender 


texture,  is  grown  underground  to  inhibit  its  development  of  chlorophyll  content,  therefore  creating  its  distinctive  white 
coloring.  It  is  generally  found  canned,  although  you  may  find  it  fresh  in  some  select  gourmet  shops,  and  it  is  generally  more 
expensive  than  the  green  variety  since  its  production  is  more  labor  intensive.  The  other  edible  variety  of  asparagus  is  purple  in 
color.  It  features  a fruitier  flavor  and  also  provides  benefits  from  phytonutrients  called  anthocyanins  that  give  it  its  purple  color. 
With  prolonged  cooking,  the  purple  color  may  disappear. 

History 

Asparagus  has  been  prized  as  an  epicurean  delight  and  for  its  medicinal  properties  for  almost  2000  years.  Its  presence  across 
most  continents  is  partly  due  to  its  many  different  species.  Some  of  these  species  — like  Asparagus  officinalis  — are  widely 
cultivated  and  consumed  as  staple  foods.  Other  species  - like  Asparagus  racemosus,  widely  found  in  India  and  the  Himilayas  - 
have  been  used  in  a more  medicinal  context.  In  the  case  of  Asparagus  racemosus,  also  known  as  Shatavari,  there  is  a long 
history  of  use  in  Ayurvedic  medicine,  especially  in  relationship  to  digestive  problems.  Various  species  of  asparagus  were 
cultivated  by  Egyptian  cultures  beginning  as  early  as  3000  B.C.,  and  by  European  cultures  including  early  Greek  and  Roman 
cultures.  Asparagus  also  became  particularly  popular  in  France  during  the  18th  century  during  the  rule  of  Louis  XIV.  In  terms 
of  commercial  production,  China  (587,500  tons)  and  Peru  (186,000  tons)  are  currently  the  world's  largest  producers  and 
exporters  of  asparagus.  Next  in  line  as  commercial  producers  are  the  United  States  (102,780  tons)  and  Mexico  (67,247  tons). 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Since  asparagus  varieties  most  commonly  available  in  the  U.S.  are  green  in  color,  you  are  most  likely  to  find  these  green- 
colored  varieties  in  your  grocery  store.  However,  asparagus  growers  are  able  to  take  these  same  varieties  of  asparagus,  pile  dirt 
on  top  of  the  shoots  when  they  start  to  poke  through  the  ground,  and  then  allow  the  shoots  to  continue  growing  beneath  the 
dirt.  This  process  prevents  sunlight  from  falling  on  the  shoots  and  results  in  asparagus  shoots  that  are  white  in  color.  While  you 
are  most  likely  to  find  white  asparagus  in  canned  form,  you  can  also  find  it  fresh  in  some  select  gourmet  shops,  and  it  is 
generally  more  expensive  than  the  green  variety.  Other  varieties  of  asparagus  can  be  purple  in  color.  These  varieties  typically 
have  a higher  sugar  content  than  green  and  white  varieties  and  for  this  reason  have  a sweeter  taste.  (Of  course,  even  with  this 
higher  sugar  content,  asparagus  is  anything  but  a high-sugar  food.  We're  talking  about  3 grams  of  total  sugar  per  cup  of  fresh 
asparagus  — less  than  half  of  the  amount  in  an  extra  small  apple.) 

Asparagus  stalks  should  be  rounded,  and  neither  fat  nor  twisted.  Look  for  firm,  thin  stems  with  deep  green  or  purplish  closed 
tips.  The  cut  ends  should  not  be  too  woody,  although  a little  woodiness  at  the  base  prevents  the  stalk  from  drying  out.  Once 
trimmed  and  cooked,  asparagus  loses  about  half  its  total  weight.  Use  asparagus  within  a day  or  two  after  purchasing  for  best 
flavor  and  texture. 

Store  in  the  refrigerator  with  the  ends  wrapped  in  a damp  paper  towel.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  asparagus — for  example,  its 
vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Add  cold  asparagus  to  your  favorite  salad. 

• Toss  freshly  cooked  pasta  with  asparagus,  olive  oil  and  your  favorite  pasta  spices.  We  especially  enjoy  thyme,  tarragon 
and  rosemary. 

• Chopped  asparagus  make  a flavorful  and  colorful  addition  to  omelets. 

• Healthy  saute  asparagus  with  garlic,  shiitake  mushrooms  and  tofu  or  chicken  for  a complete  meal. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Asparagus 

• Garlic  Shrimp  Salad 

• Mediterranean  Pasta  Salad 

• Steamed  Salmon  and  Asparagus  with  Mustard  Dill  Sauce 

• Stir-Tried  Seafood  with  Asparagus 

• 15-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Chicken  & Asparagus 

• 15-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Asparagus  and  Tofu 

• Miso  Stir-Fry 

• Primavera  Verde 


• 5-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Asparagus 

• Warm  Asparagus  Salad 

Safety 

Contrary  to  popular  belief,  persons  who  experience  a strong  odor  coming  from  their  urine  after  eating  asparagus  are  not  in  any 
danger  from  eating  this  vegetable.  Their  urine  odor  following  consumption  of  asparagus  is  a far  more  complicated  issue  than 
you  might  expect.  Several  dozen  studies  in  this  area  have  failed  to  come  up  with  any  simple  explanation  of  this  asparagus  and 
urine  odor  phenomenon. 

Two  major  factors  are  clearly  involved  in  asparagus  and  urine  odor:  one  factor  is  a person's  ability  to  produce  odor-emitting 
substances  from  asparagus.  There  is  little  agreement  among  studies  in  this  regard,  primarily  because  researchers  are  not  in 
agreement  about  which  asparagus-derived  substances  actually  produce  the  odor.  At  least  2 1 different  substances  have  been 
proposed  as  the  odor-producing  substances  from  asparagus!  Some  studies  indicate  that  very  few  people  metabolize  asparagus 
in  such  a way  as  to  generate  odor-producing  substances.  Other  studies  indicate  that  two  out  of  every  three  people  produce  such 
substances.  A second  factor  involved  with  asparagus  and  urine  odor  is  a person's  ability  to  perceive  odors.  In  some  studies, 

50%  of  all  study  participants  appear  unable  to  perceive  odors  in  urine  from  asparagus.  To  make  matters  even  more 
complicated,  there  does  not  appear  to  be  any  patterned  relationship  between  a person's  ability  to  generate  odor-producing 
substances  from  asparagus  and  a person's  ability  to  perceive  asparagus-related  odors.  There  are  very  likely  to  be  genetic 
tendencies  involved  with  both  production  of  odor-related  substances  from  asparagus  and  perception  of  those  substances,  but 
detection  of  genetic  tendencies  (called  genetic  polymorphisms)  remains  incomplete.  (In  the  case  of  odor  perception,  however, 
some  research  is  beginning  to  point  to  a single  nucleotide  polymorphism,  rs4481887,  as  being  associated  with  the  inability  to 
smell  odor-related  substances  from  asparagus.) 

Despite  the  many  remaining  mysteries  about  urine  odor  and  asparagus,  no  research  studies  have  suggested  a link  between 
asparagus  consumption,  urine  odor,  and  health  risk.  There  are  no  studies  to  indicate  that  a strong  urine  odor  from  asparagus  is  a 
reason  for  us  to  exclude  asparagus  from  our  diet  or  that  health  benefits  from  asparagus  vary  along  with  the  presence  or  absence 
of  urine  odor.  If  you  detect  a strong  urine  odor  following  consumption  of  asparagus,  and  you're  concerned  about  this  odor,  you 
can  obviously  avoid  consumption  asparagus  in  your  diet.  But  from  a research  standpoint,  you  will  also  be  missing  out  on  the 
health  benefits  of  this  unique  food. 

Substances  Associated  with  the  Urine  Odor  from  Asparagus 

• methanethiol 

• 1 -propene-3  -iso  thiocyanate 

• 3-methylthiophene 

• bis-(methythio)methane 

• carbon  disulfide 

• carbon  oxide  sulfide 

• dimethyl  disulfide 

• dimethyl  sulfide 

• dimethyl  sulfone 

• dimethyl  sulfoxide 

• dimethyl  trisulfide 

• E-methylthio-l-propene 

• hydrogen  sulfide 

• Methylpropylsulfide 

• S-methyl-2-propenthioate 

• S-methyl-thioacrylate 

• Tetrahydrothiophene 

• methanesulfonic  anhydride 

• butyrolactone 

• 1 ,4-bis(methythio)-butane 

• S-methyl-3-(methythio)thiopropionate 

Nutritional  Profile 


Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 


The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Asparagus,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  40 

180.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

91.08  meg 

101 

46.0 

excellent 

folate 

268.20  meg 

67 

30.5 

excellent 

copper 

0.30  mg 

33 

15.2 

excellent 

vitamin  B 1 

0.29  mg 

24 

11.0 

excellent 

selenium 

10.98  meg 

20 

9.1 

excellent 

vitamin  B2 

0.25  mg 

19 

8.7 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

13.86  mg 

18 

8.4 

excellent 

vitamin  E 

2.70  mg  (ATE) 

18 

8.2 

excellent 

fiber 

3.60  g 

14 

6.5 

very  good 

maneanese 

0.28  mg 

14 

6.4 

very  good 

nhosphoms 

97.20  mg 

14 

6.3 

very  good 

vitamin  B3 

1.95  mg 

12 

5.5 

very  good 

notassium 

403.20  mg 

12 

5.2 

very  good 

choline 

46.98  mg 

11 

5.0 

very  good 

vitamin  A 

90.54  meg  RAE 

10 

4.6 

very  good 

zinc 

1.08  mg 

10 

4.5 

very  good 

iron 

1.64  mg 

9 

4.1 

very  good 

nrotein 

4.32  g 

9 

3.9 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.14  mg 

8 

3.7 

very  good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.40  mg 

8 

3.6 

very  good 

maenesium 

25.20  mg 

6 

2.9 

good 

calcium 

41.40  mg 

4 

1.9 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Aberoumand  A and  Deokule  SS.  Comparison  of  Phenolic  Compounds  of  Some  Edible  Plants  of  Iran  and  India.  Pakistan 
Journal  of  Nutrition  Year:  2008  Vol:  7 Issue:  4 Pages/record  No.:  582-585.  2008. 

• Aberoumand  A.  Comparison  of  Proximate  and  Mineral  composition  between  Asparagus  Oficinalis  and  Momordica 
dioica:  Iranian  and  Indian  Vegetables.  Iranica  Journal  of  Energy  and  Environment  (IJEE)  Year:  2010  Vol:  1 Issue:  3 
Pages/record  No.:  196-199.2010. 

• Albanese  D,  Russo  L,  Cinquanta  L et  al.  Physical  and  chemical  changes  in  minimally  processed  green  asparagus  during 
cold-storage.  Food  Chemistry  Volume  101,  Issue  1,  2007,  Pages  274-280.  2007. 

• Chrubasik  C,  Maier  T,  Dawid  C et  al.  An  observational  study  and  quantification  of  the  actives  in  a supplement  with 
Sambucus  nigra  and  Asparagus  officinalis  used  for  weight  reduction.  Phytother  Res.  2008  Jul;22(7):913-8.  2008. 


• Ghirardini  MP,  Carli  M,  del  Vecchio  N et  al.  The  importance  of  a taste.  A comparative  study  on  wild  food  plant 
consumption  in  twenty-one  local  communities  in  Italy.  J Ethnobiol  Ethnomed.  2007  May  4;3:22.  2007. 

• Gullett  NP,  Ruhul  Amin  AR,  Bayraktar  S et  al.  Cancer  prevention  with  natural  compounds.  Semin  Oncol.  2010 
Jun;37(3):258-81.  Review.  2010. 

• Huang  XF,  Lin  YY  and  Kong  LY.  Steroids  from  the  roots  of  Asparagus  officinalis  and  their  cytotoxic  activity.  J Integr 
Plant  Biol.  2008  Jun;50(6):7 17-22.  2008. 

• Jaramillo-Carmona  S,  Fuentes-Alventosa  JM,  Rodriguez-Gutierrez  G et  al.  Characterization  of  asparagus  lignin  by 
HPLC.  J Food  Sci.  2008  Sep;73(7):C526-32.  Epub  2008  Aug  19.  2008. 

• Jones  DP,  Coates  RJ,  Flagg  EW  et  al.  Glutathione  in  foods  listed  in  the  National  Cancer  Institute's  Health  Habits  and 
History  Food  Frequency  Questionnaire.  Nutr  Cancer.  1992;  17(l):57-75.  1992. 

• Kanwar  AS  and  Bhutani  KK.  Effects  of  Chlorophytum  arundinaceum,  Asparagus  adscendens  and  Asparagus  racemosus 
on  pro-inflammatory  cytokine  and  corticosterone  levels  produced  by  stress.  Phytother  Res.  2010  Oct;24(10):  1562-6. 
2010. 

• Liu  W,  Huang  XF,  Qi  Q et  al.  Asparanin  A induces  G(2)/M  cell  cycle  arrest  and  apoptosis  in  human  hepatocellular 
carcinoma  HepG2  cells.  Biochem  Biophys  Res  Commun.  2009  Apr  17;381(4):700-5.  Epub  2009  Feb  28.  2009. 

• Mathews  JN,  Flatt  PR,  and  Abdel- Wahab  YH.  Asparagus  adscendens  (Shweta  musali)  stimulates  insulin  secretion, 
insulin  action  and  inhibits  starch  digestion.  The  British  Journal  of  Nutrition.  Cambridge:  Mar  2006.  Vol.  95,  Iss.  3;  p. 
576-581.2006. 

• Pelchat  ML,  Bykowski  C,  Duke  FF  et  al.  Excretion  and  perception  of  a characteristic  odor  in  urine  after  asparagus 
ingestion:  a psychophysical  and  genetic  study.  Chem  Senses.  2011  Jan;36(l):9-17.  Epub  2010  Sep  27.  2011. 

• Pellegrini  N,  Serafmi  M,  Colombi  B et  al.  Total  antioxidant  capacity  of  plant  foods,  beverages  and  oils  consumed  in 
Italy  assessed  by  three  different  in  vitro  assays.  The  Journal  of  Nutrition.  Bethesda:  Sep  2003.  Vol.  133,  Iss.  9;  pg.  2812. 
2003. 

• Phillips  KM,  Rasor  AS,  Ruggio  DM  et  al.  Folate  content  of  different  edible  portions  of  vegetables  and  fruits.  Nutrition 
and  Food  Science.  Bradford:  2008.  Vol.  38,  Iss.  2;  pg.  175.  2008. 

• Podolak  I,  Galanty  A,  and  Sobolewska  D.  Saponins  as  cytotoxic  agents:  a review.  Phytochem  Rev.  2010  September; 

9(3):  425— 474.  Published  online  2010  June.  2010. 

• Roberfroid  M,  Gibson  GR,  Hoyles  L et  al.  Prebiotic  effects:  metabolic  and  health  benefits.  Br  J Nutr.  2010  Aug;104 
Suppl  2: SI -63.  Review.  2010. 

• Sakaguchi  Y,  Ozaki  Y,  Miyajima  I et  al.  al.  Major  anthocyanins  from  purple  asparagus  (Asparagus  officinalis). 
Phytochemistry.  2008  May;69(8):  1763-6.  Epub  2008  Apr  10.  2008. 

• Shao  Y,  Chin  CK,  Ho  CT  et  al.  Anti-tumor  activity  of  the  crude  saponins  obtained  from  asparagus.  Cancer  Lett.  1996 
Jun  24;104(l):31-6.  1996. 

• Sidiq  T,  Khajuria  A,  Suden  P et  al.  A novel  sarsasapogenin  glycoside  from  Asparagus  racemosus  elicits  protective 
immune  responses  against  HBsAg.  Immunol  Lett.  2011  Mar  30;135(  1-2):  129-35.  Epub  2010  Oct  28.  2011. 

• Singh  RS  and  Singh  RP.  Fructooligosaccharides  from  Inulin  as  Prebiotics.  Food  Technol.  Biotechnol.  48  (4)  435 — 450 
(2010).  2010. 

• Sun  Z,  Huang  X and  Kong  L.  A new  steroidal  saponin  from  the  dried  stems  of  Asparagus  officinalis  L.  Fitoterapia.  2010 
Apr;81(3):210-3.  Epub  2009  Sep  12.  2010. 

• Wang  L,  Wang  X,  Yuan  X,  Zhao  B.  Simultaneous  analysis  of  diosgenin  and  sarsasapogenin  in  Asparagus  officinalis 
byproduct  by  thin-layer  chromatography.  Phytochem  Anal.  2011  Jan-Feb;22(l):14-7.  doi:  10.1002/pca.l244.  Epub  2010. 
2011. 

• Wu  JJ,  Cheng  KW,  Zuo  XF  et  al.  Steroidal  saponins  and  ecdysterone  from  Asparagus  filicinus  and  their  cytotoxic 
activities.  Steroids.  2010  Oct;75(10):734-9.  Epub  2010  May  12.  2010. 

• Zhu  X,  Zhang  W,  Zhao  J et  al.  Hypolipidaemic  and  hepatoprotective  effects  of  ethanolic  and  aqueous  extracts  from 
Asparagus  officinalis  L.  by-products  in  mice  fed  a high-fat  diet.  J Sci  Food  Agric.  2010  May;90(7):  1129-35.  2010. 

• Zhu,  X,  Zhang,  W,  Pang,  X et  al.  Hypolipidemic  Effect  of  n-Butanol  Extract  from  Asparagus  officinalis  L.  in  Mice  fed  a 
High-fat  Diet.  Phytotherapy  Research,  n/a.  31  Jan  2011.  doi:  10.1002/ptr.3380.  2011. 

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Avocados 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Avocados 

• Many  of  our  WHFoods  provide  you  with  carotenoids.  These  orange-yellow  pigments  offer  you  outstanding  health 
benefits — but  only  if  they  are  absorbed  up  into  your  cells.  Intake  of  fat  along  with  carotenoids  greatly  helps  to  improve 
their  absorption.  However,  many  of  our  best  foods  for  obtaining  carotenoids — for  example,  sweet  potatoes,  carrots,  and 
leafy  greens — contain  very  little  fat  (less  than  1 gram  per  serving).  As  a special  step  for  improving  carotenoid  absorption 
from  carotenoid-rich  foods,  researchers  have  experimented  with  the  addition  of  avocado  to  meal  choices  including 
salads,  side  servings  of  leafy  greens,  side  servings  of  carrots,  or  tomato  sauce.  The  amount  of  avocado  added  has  varied 
from  study  to  study  but  averages  approximately  1 cup  or  1 small/medium  avocado  providing  20-25  grams  of  total  fat.  As 
expected,  this  added  avocado  has  been  shown  to  increase  carotenoid  absorption  from  all  of  the  foods  listed  above. 
Anywhere  from  two  to  six  times  as  much  absorption  was  found  to  occur  with  the  added  avocado!  But  in  addition  to  this 
increased  absorption  was  a much  less  anticipated  result  in  a recent  study:  not  only  did  avocado  improve  carotenoid 
absorption,  but  it  also  improved  conversion  of  specific  carotenoids  (most  importantly,  beta-carotene)  into  active  vitamin 
A.  (This  unexpected  health  benefit  of  increased  conversion  was  determined  by  the  measurement  of  retinyl  esters  in  the 
bloodstream  of  participants,  which  were  found  to  increase  after  consumption  of  carrots  or  tomato  sauce  in  combination 
with  avocado.) 

Avocados  do  contain  carotenoids,  in  and  of  themselves.  And  thanks  to  their  fat  content,  you  can  get  good  absorption  of 
the  carotenoids  that  they  contain.  However,  if  you  happen  to  be  consuming  an  avocado-free  meal  or  snack  that  contains 
very  little  fat  yet  rich  amounts  of  carotenoids,  some  added  avocado  might  go  a long  way  in  improving  your  carotenoid 
absorption  and  vitamin  A nourishment.  Salad  greens — including  romaine  lettuce — and  mixed  greens  like  kale,  chard, 
and  spinach  are  great  examples  of  very  low  fat,  carotenoid-rich  foods  that  might  be  eaten  alone  but  would  have  more  of 
their  carotenoid-richness  transferred  over  into  your  body  with  the  help  of  some  added  avocado. 

• The  method  you  use  to  peel  an  avocado  might  make  a difference  to  your  health.  Research  on  avocado  shows  that  the 
greatest  phytonutrient  concentrations  occur  in  portions  of  the  food  that  we  do  not  typically  eat,  namely,  the  peel  and  the 
seed  (or  "pit.")  The  pulp  of  the  avocado  is  actually  much  lower  in  phytonutrients  than  these  other  portions  of  the  food. 
However,  while  lower  in  their  overall  phytonutrient  richness,  all  portions  of  the  pulp  are  not  identical  in  their 
phytonutrient  concentrations  and  the  areas  of  the  pulp  that  are  closest  to  the  peel  are  higher  in  certain  phytonutrients  than 
more  interior  portions  of  the  pulp.  For  this  reason,  you  don't  want  to  slice  into  that  outermost,  dark  green  portion  of  the 
pulp  any  more  than  necessary  when  you  are  peeling  an  avocado.  Accordingly,  the  best  method  is  what  the  California 
Avocado  Commission  has  called  the  "nick  and  peel"  method.  In  this  method,  you  actually  end  up  peeling  the  avocado 
with  your  hands  in  the  same  way  that  you  would  peel  a banana.  The  first  step  in  the  nick-and-peel  method  is  to  cut  into 
the  avocado  lengthwise,  producing  two  long  avocado  halves  that  are  still  connected  in  the  middle  by  the  seed.  Next  you 
take  hold  of  both  halves  and  twist  them  in  opposite  directions  until  they  naturally  separate.  At  this  point,  remove  the  seed 
and  cut  each  of  the  halves  lengthwise  to  produce  long  quartered  sections  of  the  avocado.  You  can  use  your  thumb  and 
index  finger  to  grip  the  edge  of  the  skin  on  each  quarter  and  peel  it  off,  just  as  you  would  do  with  a banana  skin.  The 
final  result  is  a peeled  avocado  that  contains  most  of  that  dark  green  outermost  flesh,  which  provides  you  with  the  best 
possible  phytonutrient  richness  from  the  pulp  portion  of  the  avocado. 

• Recent  research  on  avocado  and  heart  disease  risk  has  revealed  some  important  health  benefits  that  may  be  unique  to  this 
food.  Avocado's  reputation  as  a high- fat  food  is  entirely  accurate.  Our  1-cup  website  serving  provides  22  grams  of  fat, 
and  those  22  grams  account  for  82%  of  avocado's  total  calories.  And  they  do  not  necessarily  provide  a favorable  ratio  of 
omega-3  to  omega-6  fat;  you  get  less  than  1/4  gram  of  omega-3s  from  one  serving  of  avocado  and  2.5  grams  of  omega- 
6s,  for  a ratio  of  10:1  in  favor  of  omega-6s.  However,  despite  these  characteristics,  the  addition  of  avocado  to  already 
well-balanced  diets  has  been  shown  to  lower  risk  of  heart  disease,  improve  blood  levels  of  LDL,  and  lower  levels  of 
oxidative  stress  in  the  bloodstream  following  consumption  of  food.  In  one  particular  research  study,  participants  in  two 
groups  all  consumed  a diet  with  the  same  overall  balance,  including  34%  fat  in  both  groups.  But  one  avocado  per  day 
was  included  in  the  meal  plan  of  only  one  group,  and  that  was  the  group  with  the  best  heart-related  results  in  terms  of 
blood  fat  levels. 

Most  researchers  are  agreed  that  the  high  levels  of  monounsaturated  fat  in  avocado — especially  oleic  acid — play  a role 
in  these  heart-related  benefits.  Nearly  15  out  of  the  22  grams  of  fat  (68%)  found  in  one  cup  of  avocado  come  from 
monounsaturated  fat.  (And  by  contrast,  less  than  3 grams  come  from  the  category  of  polyunsaturated  fat,  which  includes 
both  omega-6s  and  omega-3s.)  This  high  level  of  monounsaturates  puts  avocado  in  a similar  category  with  olives,  which 
provide  about  14  grams  of  fat  per  cup  and  approximately  73%  of  those  grams  as  monounsaturates.  In  addition  to  its  high 
percentage  of  monounsaturated  fat,  however,  avocado  offers  some  other  unique  fat  qualities.  It  provides  us  with 


phytosterols  including  beta-sitosterol,  campesterol,  and  stigmasterol.  This  special  group  of  fats  has  been  shown  to 
provide  important  anti-inflammatory  benefits  to  our  body  systems,  including  our  cardiovascular  system.  Not  as  clear 
from  a dietary  standpoint  are  the  polyhydroxylated  fatty  alcohols,  or  PFAs,  found  in  avocado.  PFAs  are  a group  of  fat- 
related  compounds  more  commonly  found  in  sea  plants  than  in  land  plants,  making  the  avocado  tree  unusual  in  this 
regard.  However,  the  studies  that  we  have  seen  on  PFAs  and  avocado  have  extracted  these  PFAs  from  the  seed  (or  pit)  of 
the  fruit,  rather  than  the  pulp.  Since  we  typically  do  not  consume  this  part  of  the  avocado,  the  practical  role  of  these 
PFAs  from  a dietary  standpoint  is  less  clear  than  the  role  of  monounsaturates  and  phytosterols  described  above. 

• Recent  studies  have  analyzed  the  overall  impact  of  avocado  on  the  average  U.S.  diet,  with  some  fascinating  results.  In 
one  broad-based,  national  study,  all  participants  who  reported  eating  any  avocado  during  the  last  24  hours  were 
compared  to  all  participants  who  reporting  eating  no  avocado  during  that  same  time  period.  The  avocado-eating  U.S. 
adults  were  found  to  have  greater  fiber  intake  (over  6 grams  more  for  the  day);  greater  potassium  intake  (439  milligrams 
more);  greater  vitamin  K intake  (57  micrograms  more);  and  greater  vitamin  E intake  (2.2  milligrams  alpha-tocopherol 
equivalents  more)  than  U.S.  adults  who  ate  no  avocado.  Interestingly,  all  of  the  nutrients  listed  above  are  nutrients  for 
which  avocado  receives  a rating  of  "good"  on  our  WHFoods  nutrient  rating  system!  It's  worth  adding  here  that  U.S. 
adults  consuming  avocado  also  averaged  43  milligrams  more  magnesium,  5.6  grams  more  monounsaturated  fat,  and  3.2 
grams  more  polyunsaturated  fat.  The  study  authors  also  noted  that  avocado  eating  was  associated  with  better  overall  diet 
quality,  as  well  as  better  intake  of  vegetables  and  fruits  as  a whole. 


Avocado,  cubed, raw 
1.00  cup 
(150.00  grams) 

Calories:  240 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

pantothenic  acid 

42% 

fiber 

40% 

vitamin  K 

35% 

i 

copper 

31% 

folate 

30% 

vitamin  B6 

23% 

vitamin  E 

21% 

potassium 

21% 

vitamin  C 

20% 

Health  Benefits 

Broad-Based  Nutritional  Support 

As  described  earlier  in  our  "What's  New  and  Beneficial"  section,  U.S.  adults  who  consume  avocado  average  some  important 
nutrient  benefits,  including  intake  of  more  potassium,  vitamin  K,  vitamin  E,  fiber,  magnesium,  and  monounsaturated  fat.  In 
addition,  they  average  greater  overall  intake  of  fruits  and  vegetables  and  have  better  overall  diet  quality.  Due  to  their  higher 
calorie  content,  avocados  do  not  rank  as  high  in  our  rating  system  as  do  other  nutrient-rich  foods  with  fewer  calories.  However, 
there  are  very  few  DRI  vitamins  or  minerals  not  found  in  avocado!  In  this  food  you  will  find  all  B vitamins  except  vitamin 
B12;  vitamin  C (at  20%  of  our  WHFoods  recommended  daily  level  in  one  cup);  phosphorus,  manganese,  and  copper  at  more 
than  10%  of  our  WHFoods  recommendation);  and  8%  of  our  recommended  daily  omega-3s. 

In  addition  to  these  conventional  nutrients,  avocados  offer  a wide  range  of  phytonutrients  that  are  related  to  their  unusual  fat 
quality.  Included  in  this  category  are  the  phytosterols  (beta-sitosterol,  campesterol,  and  stigmasterol)  as  well  as  their 
polyhydroxylated  alcohols.  The  major  carotenoid  found  in  the  pulp  of  avocado  is  chrysanthemaxanthin.  Other  carotenoids  in 
the  pulp  include  neoxanthin,  transneoxanthin,  neochrome,  and  several  forms  of  lutein.  As  mentioned  earlier,  avocado  is  also  an 
especially  rich  source  of  monounsaturated  fatty  acids,  and  in  particular,  oleic  acid,  which  accounts  for  over  60%  of  the  total  fat 
found  in  this  food. 

It  would  be  wrong  to  conclude  this  nutritional  support  section  without  mentioning  the  improved  absorption  of  carotenoids  that 
can  take  place  when  very  low-fat,  carotenoid-rich  food  might  otherwise  be  consumed  in  the  absence  of  fat.  As  described  earlier 
in  our  What's  New  and  Beneficial  section,  many  of  our  best  foods  for  obtaining  carotenoids — for  example,  sweet  potatoes, 
carrots,  and  leafy  greens — contain  very  little  fat  (less  than  1 gram  per  serving).  This  absence  of  fat  works  against  their 
absorption  into  the  body,  and  the  addition  of  a fat-containing  food  like  avocado  can  change  this  situation  pretty  dramatically. 
Anywhere  from  two  to  six  times  as  much  absorption  of  carotenoids  has  been  found  to  occur  in  these  very  low-fat,  high 
carotenoid  dietary  situations.  In  addition,  the  combination  of  carotenoid-rich,  very  low-fat  foods  like  carrots  with  a high-fat 


food  like  avocado  has  been  shown  to  improve  conversion  of  specific  carotenoids  (most  importantly,  beta-carotene)  into  active 
vitamin  A.  We  think  about  this  avocado  health  benefit  as  another  component  of  its  broad-based  nutritional  support. 

Cardiovascular  Support 

Numerous  studies  have  looked  at  the  relationship  between  avocado  consumption  and  blood  fat  levels,  types  of  fat  in  the 
bloodstream,  inflammatory  risk  in  the  cardiovascular  system,  and  degree  of  cardiovascular  protection  against  oxygen-based 
damage.  The  study  results  are  consistent  in  showing  benefits  from  avocado  in  all  of  these  areas.  Most  of  the  benefits  are 
associated  with  avocado  consumption  at  least  multiple  times  per  week  in  amounts  of  approximately  one  cup.  (Depending  on 
the  variety,  one  cup  of  avocado  is  approximately  the  same  as  the  amount  of  pulp  found  in  one  small-to-medium  sized  avocado. 
Some  studies  also  show  benefits  with  smaller  amounts  of  avocado  in  the  1/2-cup  range. 

A wide  range  of  nutrients  in  avocado  has  been  associated  with  these  cardiovascular  benefits.  Included  in  this  list  would  be:  (1) 
avocado  fats,  which  include  very  large  amounts  of  the  monounsaturated  fatty  acid,  oleic  acid,  as  well  as  the  unusual 
phytosterols,  including  beta-sitosterol,  campesterol,  and  stigmasterol;  (2)  the  antioxidant  nutrients  in  avocado,  including 
carotenoids  like  chrysanthemaxanthin,  neoxanthin,  and  lutein  as  well  as  vitamin  E and  vitamin  C;  (3)  anti-inflammatory 
components  of  avocado,  including  the  carotenoids  and  phytosterols  listed  above  as  well  as  catechins  and  procyanidins  (two 
families  of  flavonoids). 

Risk  of  metabolic  syndrome — which  includes  symptoms  involving  problematic  blood  fat  levels  and  elevated  blood  pressure — 
has  been  shown  to  be  reduced  by  intake  of  avocado.  Many  of  the  nutrients  provided  by  avocado  are  likely  to  play  a role  in  this 
important  health  benefit.  Research  in  this  area  encourages  us  to  think  about  avocado  as  being  truly  preventive  in  its 
cardiovascular  health  benefits,  and  worthy  of  consideration  in  many  types  of  meal  plans. 

One  important  note  about  the  cardiovascular  benefits  of  avocado:  most  of  the  encouraging  studies  that  we  have  seen  do  not 
simply  "dump"  avocado  into  a meal  plan  as  some  type  of  "add-on"  food.  Instead,  avocado  is  integrated  into  a balanced  diet 
with  a controlled  amount  of  fat,  calories,  and  intake  across  food  groups.  There  does  not  appear  to  be  any  requirement  for  the 
diet  to  be  low  fat,  since  avocado-containing  meal  plans  that  provide  up  to  34%  of  their  total  calories  from  fat  have  been  shown 
to  provide  cardiovascular  support.  But  treatment  of  avocado  as  an  "add-on"  food  is  not  an  approach  that  we  have  seen 
supported  by  large-scale  research  in  this  cardiovascular  area. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

We  believe  that  avocado  is  likely  to  provide  you  with  health  benefits  in  the  areas  of  blood  sugar  control,  insulin  regulation, 
satiety  and  weight  management,  and  decreased  overall  risk  of  unwanted  inflammation.  However,  we  would  still  like  to  see 
further  expansion  of  research  findings  in  these  areas.  With  respect  to  blood  sugar  and  insulin  regulation,  we  have  seen  smaller 
scale  studies  showing  reduced  insulin  secretion  after  a meal  and  improved  regulation  of  blood  sugar  levels,  but  most  of  these 
studies  have  focused  on  the  short-term  situation  following  a meal  rather  than  extended  blood  sugar  regulation  over  weeks  or 
months.  Some  of  these  studies  have  focused  on  the  fiber  content  of  avocado,  which  is  more  substantial  than  many  people  might 
think.  (There  are  10  grams  of  fiber  in  our  one  cup  website  serving.)  Also  investigated  in  this  area  has  been  the  7-carbon  sugar 
called  mannoheptulose  (and  its  polyol  form  called  perseitol).  This  sugar — unlike  most  sugars — may  help  suppress  insulin 
secretion. 

In  the  area  of  satiety  and  weight  management,  we've  seen  studies  showing  improved  feelings  of  fullness  and  satisfaction  after 
eating  a meal  that  contained  avocado,  as  well  as  decreased  body  mass  index  (BMI)  and  total  body  fat  after  six  weeks  of 
consuming  a meal  plan  that  contained  1.3  cups  of  avocado  per  day.  However,  we  would  also  immediately  note  that  participants 
in  this  study  were  required  to  follow  a balanced  meal  plan  with  a restricted  number  of  calories  (about  1,700  calories  per  day). 
So  we  suspect  that  avocado  can  indeed  be  helpful  to  include  in  a weight  management  plan,  but  only  if  the  overall  plan  is  well 
thought  out  and  takes  the  overall  amount  of  food  intake  into  consideration. 

Avocado  has  clearly  been  shown  to  provide  a wide  variety  of  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  Included  here  are 
both  conventional  nutrients  like  manganese,  vitamin  C,  and  vitamin  E,  as  well  as  phytonutrients  like  unique  carotenoids, 
flavonoids,  and  phytosterols.  Most  of  the  larger  scale,  human  research  studies  that  we  have  seen  focus  on  the  cardiovascular 
system  and  risk  of  oxidative  stress  and  inflammation  in  this  system.  In  terms  of  the  whole  body,  however,  and  its  many  key 
physiological  systems,  the  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  avocado  have  been  tested  primarily  in  the  lab  or  in 
animal  studies.  For  example,  numerous  animal  studies  have  looked  at  the  impact  of  avocado  intake  on  risk  of  inflammation  in 
connective  tissue  and  have  speculated  about  the  potential  benefits  of  avocado  for  reducing  human  arthritis  risk.  Because  of  the 
promising  nature  of  these  preliminary  studies,  we  look  forward  to  new  research  involving  large  numbers  of  human  participants 
and  intake  of  avocado  in  a weekly  meal  plan. 


Description 


Optimally  ripe  avocados  are  typically  known  for  their  silky,  creamy  texture  and  rich  flavors  (which  some  people  describe  as 
"nutty"  or  "nut-like").  Avocados  owe  their  creamy  texture  to  their  high  fat  content.  (The  Hass  avocado  that  we  analyzed  for 
nutrient  content  on  our  website  contained  22  grams  of  fat  per  cup  and  provided  82%  of  its  total  calories  in  the  form  of  fat.)  Not 
all  avocados  are  identical  in  terms  of  fat  content,  however.  As  a general  rule,  smaller  sized  avocados  tend  to  be  more  oily  and 
higher  in  fat,  and  large  sized  avocados  tend  to  be  somewhat  less  oily  and  lower  in  fat  percentage. 

All  avocado  belong  to  the  science  genus/species  group  called  Persea  americana.  Over  50  different  commercial  varieties  of 
avocado  exist  within  this  basic  group.  Avocados  are  also  often  categorized  as  belonging  to  three  basic  types  (sometimes  called 
"races")  according  to  their  place  of  origin.  West  Indian  avocados  originated  in  tropical  lowlands  and  subtropics,  including 
countries  like  Cuba,  Jamaica,  Haiti,  the  Dominican  Republic,  Puerto  Rico,  and  others.  The  science  name  Persea  americana 
Mill.  var.  Americana  is  often  used  to  refer  to  West  Indian  avocado.  A second  category  of  avocado  is  Guatemalan  avocado, 
originating  as  the  name  suggests  in  the  country  of  Guatemala.  The  science  names  used  for  Guatemalan  avocado  are  usually 
Persea  americana  var  guatemalensis  or  Persea  americana  var.  nubigena.  A third  category  of  avocado  is  Mexican  avocado, 
originating  in  Mexico.  Here  the  science  name  is  often  Persea  americana  var  drymifolin.  In  practice,  you  will  hear  many 
different  varieties  of  avocado  being  referred  to  as  "Mexican  avocados"  or  "Guatemalan  avocados"  or  "West  Indian  avocado" 
even  though  they  were  not  actually  grown  in  those  countries  and  only  have  ancestral  origins  there. 

Because  Mexico  is  the  world's  largest  producer  and  exporter  of  avocados,  and  because  demand  for  avocados  within  the  United 
States  has  increased  steadily  since  the  1980's,  many  avocados  grown  in  Mexico  find  their  way  into  U.S.  supermarkets.  Within 
the  U.S.,  California  and  Florida  are  the  primary  avocado-producing  states,  with  about  six  times  the  total  number  of  avocados 
being  produced  in  California  compared  to  Florida.  Seven  commercial  varieties  of  avocado  are  produced  on  a large-scale  basis 
in  California,  but  the  Hass  variety  accounts  for  about  95%  of  all  California  production.  It  is  also  worth  noting  that  a sizeable 
number  of  avocados  are  imported  by  the  U.S.  from  South  American  countries  including  Chile,  Columbia,  Peru,  and  Brazil. 

Due  to  hybridization,  cross  seedlings,  and  several  thousand  years  of  avocado  cultivation,  it  has  become  very  difficult  to  take 
the  common  name  for  a common  avocado  variety — for  example,  Fuerte — and  link  it  up  with  a specific  place  of  origin.  Fuerte 
is  a good  example  because  this  variety  is  a Mexican-Guatemalan  cross.  But  it  may  have  been  commercially  grown  either  inside 
or  outside  of  the  U.S.  And  while  we  think  about  Hass  avocados  coming  from  California  versus  Florida,  there  are  "Florida 
Hass"  varieties  as  well.  Lulu,  Taylor,  Booth,  Choquette,  Lamb,  Ettinger,  Brogden,  Zutano,  Reed,  Pinkerton,  Gwen,  Bacon, 
Donnie,  Simmonds,  Dupuis,  Gainesville,  and  Mexicola  are  some  of  the  other  common  variety  names  for  avocados  that  you 
may  come  across  in  the  marketplace.  However,  rather  than  relying  on  the  common  name  of  an  avocado  to  determine  its  actual 
growing  location,  you  will  need  to  check  the  country  of  origin  sticker  or  ask  the  produce  manager. 

History 

As  mentioned  above  in  our  Description  section,  avocados  are  often  categorized  according  to  the  ancestral  origins  in  the  West 
Indies,  Guatemala,  or  Mexico.  In  fact,  avocados  were  also  native  to  other  parts  of  Central  and  South  America,  where  they  have 
been  cultivated  for  food  use  for  several  thousand  years. 

In  today's  marketplace,  the  largest  producers  of  avocados  are  Mexico,  Chile,  the  United  States,  Indonesia,  the  Dominican 
Republic,  Columbia,  Peru,  Brazil,  China,  and  Guatemala.  Mexico  is  an  especially  large  exporter  of  avocado  into  the  U.S.,  with 
about  500,000  metric  tons  of  avocado  being  sent  from  Mexico  to  the  U.S.  each  year.  About  200,000  tons  of  avocado  are 
produced  in  the  state  of  California  each  year,  and  another  35,000  tons  in  the  state  of  Florida. 

As  a result  of  the  above  global  production,  you  are  most  likely  to  find  avocados  in  the  supermarket  that  were  grown  either  in 
Mexico,  California,  Florida,  or  a Central  American  or  South  American  country.  Because  of  the  greater  total  volume  and 
slightly  longer  marketing  season,  you  are  also  more  likely  to  find  California  versus  Florida  avocados  in  the  supermarket  among 
domestic  varieties. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

A ripe,  ready-to-eat  avocado  is  slightly  soft  but  should  have  no  dark  sunken  spots  or  cracks.  If  the  avocado  has  a slight  neck, 
rather  than  being  rounded  on  top,  it  may  have  ripened  a bit  more  on  the  tree  and  have  a richer  flavor.  A firmer,  less  mature  fruit 
can  be  ripened  at  home  and  may  be  less  likely  to  have  bruises,  depending  on  how  it  was  handled  during  harvest  and  transport. 
The  average  California  Hass  avocado  weighs  between  165-170  grams  (about  6 ounces)  and  has  a pebbled  dark  green  or  black 
skin.  Other  varieties  can  have  different  textures  (for  example,  smoother  and  less  pebbly),  different  colors  (for  example,  lighter 
or  brighter  greens),  and  varying  degrees  of  glossiness. 


A firm  avocado  will  ripen  in  a paper  bag  or  in  a fruit  basket  at  room  temperature  within  a few  days.  As  the  fruit  ripens,  the  skin 
will  turn  darker.  However,  we  do  not  recommend  relying  exclusively  on  color  to  determine  the  ripeness  of  an  avocado.  Hold 
the  avocado  very  gently  in  your  palm  and  begin  to  press  very  gently  against  its  surface.  A ripe  avocado  will  yield  to  very 
gentle  pressure,  without  feeling  squishy. 

Avocados  should  not  be  refrigerated  until  they  are  ripe.  Once  ripe,  they  can  be  kept  refrigerated  for  up  to  a week.  Loss  of  some 
nutrients  in  avocado — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration.  If  you  are 
refrigerating  a whole  avocado,  it  is  best  to  keep  it  whole  and  not  slice  it  in  order  to  avoid  browning  that  occurs  when  the  flesh 
is  exposed  to  air. 

If  you  have  used  a portion  of  a ripe  avocado,  it  is  best  to  store  the  remainder  in  the  refrigerator.  Store  in  a sealed  and  reusable 
glass  container  or  sealed  and  reusable  plastic  container.  Sprinkling  the  exposed  surface(s)  with  lemon  juice  will  help  to  prevent 
the  browning  that  can  occur  when  the  flesh  comes  in  contact  with  oxygen  in  the  air. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Use  chopped  avocados  as  a garnish  for  black  bean  soup. 

• Add  avocado  to  your  favorite  creamy  tofu-based  dressing  recipe  to  give  it  extra  richness  and  a beautiful  green  color. 

• Mix  chopped  avocados,  onions,  tomatoes,  cilantro,  lime  juice  and  seasonings  for  a rich-tasting  twist  on  traditional 
guacamole. 

• Spread  ripe  avocados  on  bread  as  a healthy  replacement  for  mayonnaise  when  making  a sandwich. 

• For  an  exceptional  salad,  combine  sliced  avocado  with  fennel,  oranges  and  fresh  mint. 

• For  a beautiful  accompaniment  to  your  favorite  Mexican  dish,  top  quartered  avocado  slices  with  com  relish  and  serve 
with  a wedge  of  lime. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Avocados 

• 1 0-Minute  Huevos  Rancheros 

• Breakfast  Bagel 

• Poached  Huevos  Rancheros 

• 15  Minute  Shrimp  and  Avocado  Salad 

• 1 5 Minute  Turkey  Chefs  Salad 

• Healthy  Veggie  Salad 

• Mexican  Cheese  Salad 

• Salmon.  Cucumber.  Dill  Salad 

• 15-Minute  Halibut  with  Avocado  Salsa 

• Southwestern  Salmon  & Black  Beans 

• Romaine  and  Avocado  Salad 


Safety 

Avocados  and  Latex-Fruit  Syndrome 

Latex- fruit  syndrom  is  a health  problem  related  to  the  possible  reaction  of  our  immune  system  to  certain  proteins  found  in 
natural  rubber  (from  the  tree  Hevea  brasiliensis)  and  highly  similar  proteins  found  in  certain  foods,  such  as  avocados.  For 
helpful  information  about  this  topic,  please  see  our  article,  An  Overview  of  Adverse  Food  Reactions. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 


Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Avocado,  cubed,  raw 

1.00  cup  Calories:  240 

150.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

pantothenic  acid 

2.08  mg 

42 

3.1 

good 

fiber 

10.05  g 

40 

3.0 

good 

vitamin  K 

31.50  meg 

35 

2.6 

good 

Conner 

0.28  mg 

31 

2.3 

good 

folate 

121.50  meg 

30 

2.3 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.39  mg 

23 

1.7 

good 

potassium 

727.50  mg 

21 

1.6 

good 

vitamin  E 

3.11  mg  (ATE) 

21 

1.6 

good 

vitamin  C 

15.00  mg 

20 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Berasategi  I,  Barriuso  B,  Ansorena  D,  et  al.  Stability  of  avocado  oil  during  heating:  Comparative  study  to  olive  oil.  Food 
Chemistry,  Volume  132,  Issue  1,  1 May  2012,  Pages  439-446. 

• Dembitsky  VM,  Poovarodom  S,  Leontowicz  H,  et  al.  The  multiple  nutrition  properties  of  some  exotic  fruits:  Biological 
activity  and  active  metabolites.  Food  Research  International,  Volume  44,  Issue  7,  August  2011,  Pages  1671-1701. 

• Ding  H,  Chin  YW,  Kinghorn  AD,  et  al.  Chemopreventive  characteristics  of  avocado  fruit.  Semin  Cancer  Biol.  2007  May 
17;  [Epub  ahead  of  print]  2007.  2007. 

• Ding  H,  Han  C,  Guo  D et  al.  Selective  induction  of  apoptosis  of  human  oral  cancer  cell  lines  by  avocado  extracts  via  a 
ROS-mediated  mechanism.  Nutr  Cancer.  2009;61(3):348-56.  2009. 

• Donnarumma  G,  Paoletti  I,  Buommino  E,  et  al.  AVI  19,  a Natural  Sugar  from  Avocado  gratissima,  Modulates  the  LPS- 
Induced  Proinflammatory  Response  in  Human  Keratinocytes.  Inflammation.  2010  Oct  9.  [Epub  ahead  of  print],  2010. 

• Eser  O,  Songur  A,  Yaman  M,  et  al.  The  protective  effect  of  avocado  soybean  unsaponifilables  on  brain 
ischemia/reperfusion  injury  in  rat  prefrontal  cortex.  Br  J Neurosurg.  2010  Sep  28.  [Epub  ahead  of  print],  2010. 

• Fulgoni  V,  Dreher  M,  and  Davenport  A.  Contribution  of  Avocados  to  the  Diets  of  U.  S.  Adults:  NHANES,  2001-2006. 
Journal  of  the  American  Dietetic  Association,  Volume  110,  Issue  9,  Supplement,  September  2010,  Page  A30. 

• Fulgoni  VL  3rd,  Dreher  M,  and  Davenport  AJ.  Avocado  consumption  is  associated  with  better  diet  quality  and  nutrient 
intake,  and  lower  metabolic  syndrome  risk  in  US  adults:  results  from  the  National  Health  and  Nutrition  Examination 
Survey  (NHANES)  2001-2008.  Nutr  J.  2013  Jan2;12:l.  doi:  10.1186/1475-2891-12-1. 

• Gorinstein  S,  Poovarodom  S,  Leontowicz  H,  et  al.  Antioxidant  properties  and  bioactive  constituents  of  some  rare  exotic 
Thai  fruits  and  comparison  with  conventional  fruits:  In  vitro  and  in  vivo  studies.  Food  Research  International,  Volume 
44,  Issue  7,  August  2011,  Pages  2222-2232. 

• Guzman-Geronimo  RI  and  Dorantes  L.  Fatty  acids  profile  and  microstructure  of  avocado  puree  after  microwave  heating. 
Arch  Latinoam  Nutr.  2008  Sep;58(3):298-302.  Spanish.  2008. 

• Heinecke  LF,  Grzanna  MW,  Au  AY,  et  al.  Inhibition  of  cyclooxygenase-2  expression  and  prostaglandin  E2  production  in 
chondrocytes  by  avocado  soybean  unsaponifiables  and  epigallocatechin  gallate.  Osteoarthritis  Cartilage.  2010 

Feb;  18(2):220-7.  Epub  2009  Sep  6.  2010. 

• Khor  A,  Grant  R,  Tung  C,  et  al.  Postprandial  oxidative  stress  is  increased  after  a phytonutrient-poor  food  but  not  after  a 
kilojoule-matched  phytonutrient-rich  food. 

• Nutrition  Research,  Volume  34,  Issue  5,  May  2014,  Pages  391-400. 


• Kopec  RE,  Cooperstone  JL,  Schweiggert  RM,  et  al.  Avocado  consumption  enhances  human  postprandial  provitamin  A 
absorption  and  conversion  from  a novel  high-|l-carotene  tomato  sauce  and  from  carrots.  J Nutr.  2014  Aug;  144(8):  1158- 
66. 

• Lippiello  L,  Nardo  JV,  Harlan  R,  et  al.  Metabolic  effects  of  avocado/soy  unsaponifiables  on  articular  chondrocytes.  Evid 
Based  Complement  Alternat  Med.  2008  Jun;5(2):191-7.  2008. 

• Lu  QY,  Zhang  Y,  Wang  Y,  et  al.  California  Hass  avocado:  profiling  of  carotenoids,  tocopherol,  fatty  acid,  and  fat  content 
during  maturation  and  from  different  growing  areas.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  Nov  11;57(21):1 0408- 13 . 2009. 

• National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service  (NASS). (2012).  Noncitrus  Fruits  and  Nuts  2011  Summary.  U.S.  Department  of 
Agriculture  (USDA),  Washington,  D.C. 

• Pieterse  Z,  Jerling  JC,  Oosthuizen  W,  et  al.  Substitution  of  high  monounsaturated  fatty  acid  avocado  for  mixed  dietary 
fats  during  an  energy-restricted  diet:  Effects  on  weight  loss,  serum  lipids,  fibrinogen,  and  vascular  function.  Nutrition, 
Volume  21,  Issue  1,  January  2005,  Pages  67-75. 

• Rosenblat  G,  Meretski  S,  Segal  J,  et  al.  Polyhydroxylated  fatty  alcohols  derived  from  avocado  suppress  inflammatory 
response  and  provide  non-sunscreen  protection  against  UV-induced  damage  in  skin  cells.  Arch  Dermatol  Res.  2010  Oct 
27.  [Epub  ahead  of  print],  2010. 

• Roth  G,  Hayek  M,  Massimino  S,  et  al.  Mannoheptulose:  glycolytic  inhibitor  and  novel  caloric  restriction  mimetic. 
FASEB  J.  April  2009,  23  (Meeting  Abstract  Supplement)  553.1.  2009. 

• Unlu  NZ,  Bohn  T,  Clinton  SK,  et  al.  Carotenoid  Absorption  from  Salad  and  Salsa  by  Humans  Is  Enhanced  by  the 
Addition  of  Avocado  or  Avocado  Oil.  J.  Nutr.,  Mar  2005;  135:  43 1 - 436.  2005. 

• Villa-Rodriguez  JA,  Molina-Corral  FJ,  Ayala-Zavala  JF,  et  al.  Effect  of  maturity  stage  on  the  content  of  fatty  acids  and 
antioxidant  activity  of 'Hass'  avocado.  Food  Research  International,  Volume  44,  Issue  5,  June  2011,  Pages  1231-1237. 

• Wang  L,  Bordi  PL,  Fleming  JA,  et  al.  Effect  of  a moderate  fat  diet  with  and  without  avocados  on  lipoprotein  particle 
number,  size  and  subclasses  in  overweight  and  obese  adults:  a randomized,  controlled  trial.  J Am  Heart  Assoc.  2015  Jan 
7;4(1).  pii:  e001355. 

• Wang  W,  Bostic  TR,  and  Gu  L.  Antioxidant  capacities,  procyanidins  and  pigments  in  avocados  of  different  strains  and 
cultivars.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  122,  Issue  4,  15  October  2010,  Pages  1193-1198. 

• Wang  L,  Fleming  J,  and  Kris-Etherton  P.  The  Effects  of  One  Avocado  Per  Day  on  Small,  Dense  LDL  and  the 
Relationship  of  TG,  VLDL,  HDL,  ApoB,  and  ApoB/Al  with  LDL  Particle  Size.  Journal  of  Clinical  Lipidology,  Volume 
7,  Issue  3,  May — June  2013,  Pages  267-268. 

• Wien  M,  Haddad  E,  Oda  K,  et  al.  A randomized  crossover  study  to  evaluate  the  effect  of  Hass  avocado  intake  on  post- 
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27;12: 155. 


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Beet  greens 

When  purchasing  fresh  beets  in  the  produce  section  of  your  grocery,  you  are  very  likely  to  find  them  bunched  together  with 
their  colorful  leafy  greens  adorning  their  tops.  While  many  people  can  cut  off  these  greens  and  only  consume  their  round  root 
portion,  beet  greens  are  actually  the  most  nutrient-rich  part  of  the  plant  and  provide  amazing  health  benefits. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Beet  Greens 

• A recent  study  from  Chile  has  shown  beet  greens  to  be  one  of  the  top  10  food  contributors  to  iron  intake  in  that  country. 
Even  though  legumes  were  the  most  important  food  group  contributor  to  iron  (with  pinto  beans  ranking  as  the  number 
one  food  source),  beet  greens  were  nevertheless  a standout  source,  especially  within  the  vegetable  group.  (Our 
WHFoods  rating  system  ranks  beet  greens  as  a very  good  source  of  iron,  providing  15%  of  the  daily  recommended 
amount  in  a 1-cup  serving.) 

• Dark  green  leafy  vegetables  (DGLV)  are  often  lumped  together  as  a group  and  treated  interchangeably.  However,  up-to- 
date  nutrient  information  reveals  important  differences  between  members  of  this  incredibly  nutrient-rich  food  group.  For 
example,  when  beet  greens  are  compared  with  two  other  common  DGLVs — turnip  greens  and  mustard  greens — only 
beet  greens  provide  excellent  amounts  of  both  calcium  and  magnesium,  While  all  three  of  these  DGLVs  provide 
excellent  amounts  of  calcium,  only  beet  greens  also  provide  an  excellent  amount  of  magnesium  at  98  milligrams  per 
serving,  or  nearly  25%  of  the  recommended  daily  amount.  This  unique  aspect  of  beet  greens  gives  them  a 
calcium:magnesium  ratio  of  1.6:1,  in  comparison  to  the  ratio  in  turnip  greens  of  6.2:1,  or  the  ratio  in  mustard  greens  of 
9.2:1. 

• Both  beet  greens  and  beet  roots  can  provide  you  with  outstanding  nourishment.  The  roots  are  especially  concentrated  in 
folate,  providing  5-6  times  the  amount  of  this  vitamin  as  the  leaves.  However,  from  an  overall  nutritional  perspective, 
beet  greens  achieve  1 1 rankings  of  excellent,  6 rankings  of  very  good,  and  3 rankings  of  good  in  our  WHFoods  rating 
system,  for  a total  of  20  rankings.  (By  comparison,  beet  roots  achieve  a total  of  10  rankings.)  This  outcome  places  beet 
greens  in  our  Top  10  foods  in  terms  of  total  rankings. 

• A recent  study  has  shown  beet  greens  to  be  a major  contributor  in  many  diets  to  total  intake  of  the  carotenoids  lutein  and 
beta-carotene.  While  not  as  concentrated  in  lutein  as  collard  greens  or  spinach,  beet  greens  have  nevertheless  been 
shown  to  be  an  outstanding  source  of  this  key  carotenoid.  (Lutein  is  known  to  play  an  especially  important  role  in  eye 
health,  including  the  health  of  the  retina.) 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

Foods  belonging  to  the  chenopod  family — including  beets,  chard,  spinach  and  quinoa — continue  to  show  an  increasing  number 
of  health  benefits  not  readily  available  from  other  food  families.  The  red  and  yellow  betalain  pigments  found  in  this  food 
family,  their  unique  epoxyxanthophyll  carotenoids,  and  the  special  connection  between  their  overall  phytonutrients  and  our 
nervous  system  health  (including  our  specialized  nervous  system  organs  like  the  eye)  point  to  the  chenopod  family  of  foods  as 
unique  in  their  health  value.  While  we  have  yet  to  see  large-scale  human  studies  that  point  to  a recommended  minimum  intake 
level  for  foods  from  this  botanical  family,  we  have  seen  data  on  chenopod  phytonutrients,  and  based  on  this  data,  we 
recommend  that  you  include  foods  from  the  chenopod  family  in  your  diet  1-2  times  per  week.  In  the  case  of  a leafy  food  like 
spinach,  we  recommend  a serving  size  of  at  least  1/2  cup,  and  even  more  beneficial,  at  least  one  full  cup.  In  the  case  of  a root 
food  like  beet  root,  we  recommend  a serving  size  of  at  least  1/2  whole  medium  beet,  and  even  more  beneficial,  at  least  1 whole 
medium  beet.  For  quinoa,  our  recommended  minimum  serving  size  is  1/2  cup  pre-cooked. 


Beet  Greens,  boiled 
1.00  cup 
(144.00  grams) 

Calories:  39 

GI:  not  available 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

774% 

^ ■ 

vitamin  A 

61% 

vitamin  C 

48% 

^ ■ 

copper 

40% 

potassium 

37% 

manganese 

37% 

vitamin  B2 

32% 

magnesium 

24% 

vitamin  E 

17% 

fiber 

17% 

calcium 

16% 

iron 

15% 

vitamin  B 1 

14% 

vitamin  B6 

11% 

pantothenic  acid 

9% 

DhosDhorus 

8% 

protein 

7% 

zinc 

7% 

vitamin  B3 

5% 

folate 

5% 

Health  Benefits 

Unusually  Comprehensive  Nourishment 

As  mentioned  earlier  in  this  profile,  beet  greens  achieve  20  rankings  of  excellent,  very  good,  or  good  in  our  WHFoods  rating 
system.  These  results  place  beet  greens  among  our  Top  10  ranked  foods.  Equally  important,  no  major  category  of  nutrients  is 
left  out  of  these  high  ratings.  In  the  macronutrient  category,  beet  greens  are  an  excellent  source  of  fiber  and  a very  good  source 
of  protein.  In  the  vitamin  category,  they  are  an  excellent  source  of  both  fat-soluble  vitamins  like  vitamins  A and  K,  as  well  as 
water-soluble  vitamins  like  vitamins  C and  B2.  In  the  mineral  category,  they  are  an  excellent  source  of  5 minerals,  including 
copper,  potassium,  manganese,  magnesium,  and  calcium.  In  fact,  when  beet  greens  are  compared  with  two  other  common  dark 
green  leafy  vegetables  (DGLV) — turnip  greens  and  mustard  greens — only  beet  greens  provide  excellent  amounts  of  both 
calcium  and  magnesium.  While  all  three  of  these  DGLVs  provide  excellent  amounts  of  calcium,  only  beet  greens  also  provide 
an  excellent  amount  of  magnesium  at  98  milligrams  per  serving,  or  nearly  25%  of  the  recommended  daily  amount.  This  unique 
aspect  of  beet  greens  gives  them  a calcium:magnesium  ratio  of  1.6:1,  in  comparison  to  the  ratio  in  turnip  greens  of  6.2:1,  or  the 
ratio  in  mustard  greens  of  9.2:1.  The  ratio  in  beet  greens  may  be  more  helpful  to  the  average  U.S.  adult  than  the  ratio  in  these 
other  greens,  since  the  average  U.S.  adult  is  more  deficient  in  magnesium  than  calcium. 

In  the  phytonutrient  category,  beet  greens  show  special  benefits  in  the  area  of  carotenoid  richness.  We  rank  them  as  an 
excellent  source  of  vitamin  A due  to  their  rich  concentration  of  beta-carotene  and  lutein.  Beet  greens  have  been  shown  to  be  a 
major  contributor  in  many  diets  to  total  intake  of  the  carotenoids  lutein  and  beta-carotene.  While  not  as  concentrated  in  lutein 
as  collard  greens  or  spinach,  beet  greens  have  nevertheless  been  shown  to  be  an  outstanding  source  of  this  key  carotenoid. 
Lutein  is  known  to  play  an  especially  important  role  in  eye  health,  including  the  health  of  the  retina. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

Unfortunately,  few  studies  have  tried  to  separate  out  health  benefits  specific  to  beet  greens  from  health  benefits  associated  with 
intake  of  dark  green  leafy  vegetables  (DGLVs)  as  a group.  Without  question,  increased  intake  of  DGLVs  has  been  associated  in 
large-scale,  epidemiologic  studies  with  lower  risk  of  certain  chronic  diseases,  including  type  2 diabetes,  high  blood  pressure, 
cardiovascular  disease,  and  stroke.  Based  on  the  most  recent  report  from  the  World  Cancer  Research  Fund  and  American 
Institute  for  Cancer  Research  (WCFR/AICR),  we  also  believe  there  is  evidence  in  support  of  decreased  risk  of  certain  cancers 
following  generous  intake  of  DGLVs.  While  we  fully  expect  to  see  these  health  benefits  coming  from  intake  of  beet  greens  as 
such,  we  also  look  forward  to  future  research  where  beet  green  intake  is  analyzed  independently  from  intake  of  other  DGLVs. 

Description 

Both  beets  and  Swiss  chard  are  different  varieties  within  the  same  plant  family  (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae)  and  their 
edible  leaves  share  a resemblance  in  both  taste  and  texture.  All  varieties  of  table  beets  have  edible  leaves  that  are  primarily 
green  in  color.  However,  the  veins  in  these  beet  greens  tend  to  take  on  the  color  of  the  beet  root.  For  this  reason,  you  will  find 
beet  greens  from  yellow  beets  with  vibrant  yellow  veins,  beet  greens  from  red  beets  having  rich  red  veins,  and  beet  greens 
from  white  beets  with  distinct  white  veins.  Each  of  these  greens  can  make  an  outstanding  contribution  to  your  health. 

The  similarity  between  beets  greens  and  Swiss  chard  does  not  stop  with  their  plant  family,  taste,  or  texture.  At  WHFoods,  we 
use  a quick  boil  for  both  foods  to  help  preserve  their  nutrient  richness  during  cooking.  In  addition,  both  foods  achieve  of  20 
rankings  of  excellent,  very  good,  or  good  in  our  rating  system! 

The  science  name  for  the  beet  plant  is  Beta  vulgaris.  There  are  several  subspecies  of  beets  within  this  scientific  category, 
including  the  subspecies  vulgaris,  macrocarpa,  crassa,  and  maritime.  The  greens  attached  to  the  beet  roots  are  delicious  and 


can  be  prepared  like  spinach  or  Swiss  chard.  They  are  incredibly  rich  in  nutrients,  concentrated  in  vitamins  and  minerals  as 
well  as  carotenoids  such  as  beta-carotene  and  lutein/zeaxanthin. 

While  beets  are  available  throughout  the  year,  their  season  runs  from  June  through  October  when  the  youngest,  most  tender 
beets  are  easiest  to  find. 

History 

Beet  greens  have  been  enjoyed  in  cuisines  worldwide  since  prehistoric  times,  especially  in  Northern  Africa,  Asia,  and  parts  of 
Europe.  Today,  of  course,  they  are  enjoyed  worldwide. 

From  a commercial  production  standpoint,  beets  fall  into  three  basic  categories:  table  beets,  which  are  grown  primarily  for 
consumption  as  fresh  vegetables;  sugar  beets,  which  are  grown  primarily  for  the  extraction  of  beet  sugar;  and  fodder  beets, 
which  are  grown  primarily  for  use  in  animal  feed.  From  a practical  standpoint,  one  of  the  key  differences  that  has  emerged 
between  sugar  beets  and  table  beets  involves  the  role  of  genetic  engineering.  The  vast  majority  of  all  sugar  beets  grown 
worldwide  involve  genetically  modified  versions  of  the  plants.  This  extensive  use  of  genetic  engineering  does  not  exist  to  the 
same  degree  for  table  beets,  and  organic  table  beets  (and  beet  greens)  are  widely  available  in  the  marketplace  with  USDA 
certification  as  having  been  grown  from  seeds  that  have  not  been  genetically  engineered.  It  is  also  worth  noting  here  that  when 
used  as  feed  for  the  raising  of  animals  providing  certified  organic  meats,  milks,  cheeses,  and  other  foods,  fodder  beets  must  be 
organically  grown. 

Sugar  beets  far  outstrip  table  beets  in  terms  of  U.S.  production  as  well  as  production  worldwide.  Approximately  30  million 
tons  of  sugar  beets  are  grown  and  harvested  in  the  U.S.  each  year,  with  Minnesota,  North  Dakota,  and  Idaho  producing  the 
greatest  volume.  Worldwide,  sugar  beet  production  production  averages  close  to  300  million  tons,  with  the  Russian  Federation, 
France,  United  States,  and  Germany  among  the  leading  sugar  beet  producers.  On  a global  basis,  over  12,500,000  acres  of  sugar 
beets  are  plants  each  year.  In  the  U.S.  approximately  1,250,000  acres  of  sugar  beets  are  planted  each  year,  By  comparison,  only 
700  acres  are  planted  in  the  production  of  U.S.  table  beets. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Beet  Greens  are  available  throughout  the  garden  season.  Here  are  a few  things  to  look  for  when  selecting  fresh  beet  greens: 

When  choosing  beet  greens  that  comes  attached  to  the  roots,  choose  smaller  beet  roots  over  larger,  tougher  ones.  Beets  over  2- 
1/2  inches  in  diameter  may  be  tough  and  have  a woody  core.  Pass  over  any  beet  roots  that  are  cracked,  soft,  bruised,  or 
shriveled,  or  look  very  dry.  Avoid  elongated  beets  with  round,  scaly  areas  around  the  top  surface.  These  beets  will  be  tough, 
fibrous,  and  strongly  flavored. 

If  the  beet  greens  are  still  attached  to  the  root,  they  should  be  crisp  looking  and  not  wilted  or  slimy.  They  should  appear  fresh, 
tender,  and  have  a lively  green  color. 

Cut  the  majority  of  the  greens  and  their  stems  from  the  beet  roots.  Store  the  unwashed  greens  in  a separate  plastic  bag 
squeezing  out  as  much  of  the  air  as  possible.  Place  in  refrigerator  where  they  will  keep  fresh  for  about  four  days.  Foss  of  some 
nutrients  in  beet  greens — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Add  layers  of  beet  greens  to  your  next  lasagna  recipe. 

• Pine  nuts  are  a great  addition  to  cooked  beet  greens.. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Beet  Greens 

You  can  substitute  the  spinach  in  any  of  the  spinach  recipes  with  beet  greens: 

• Poached  Eggs  over  Spinach 

• Poached  Eggs  over  Spinach  & Mushrooms 

• Mediterranean  Babv  Spinach  Salad 


• Warm  Spinach  Salad  with  Tuna 

• Indian-Stvle  Lentils 

• 1 -Minute  Spinach 

• Golden  Spinach  and  Sweet  Potato  Healthy  Saute 

Safety 

Oxalate  Content 

Beet  greens  have  consistently  been  determined  to  have  high  oxalate  content.  Oxalates  are  naturally  occurring  organic  acids 
found  in  a wide  variety  of  foods,  and  in  the  case  of  certain  medical  conditions,  they  must  be  greatly  restricted  in  a meal  plan  to 
prevent  over-accumulation  inside  the  body.  Our  comprehensive  article  about  oxalates  will  provide  you  with  practical  and 
detailed  information  about  these  organic  acids,  food,  and  health. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Beet  Greens,  boiled 

1.00  cup  Calories:  39 

144.00  grams  GI:  not  available 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

696.96  meg 

774 

358.5 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

551.09  meg  RAE 

61 

28.3 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

35.86  mg 

48 

22.1 

excellent 

copper 

0.36  mg 

40 

18.5 

excellent 

potassium 

1308.96  mg 

37 

17.3 

excellent 

maneanese 

0.74  mg 

37 

17.1 

excellent 

vitamin  B2 

0.42  mg 

32 

15.0 

excellent 

magnesium 

97.92  mg 

24 

11.3 

excellent 

vitamin  E 

2.61  mg  (ATE) 

17 

8.1 

excellent 

fiber 

4.18  g 

17 

7.7 

excellent 

calcium 

164.16  mg 

16 

7.6 

excellent 

iron 

2.74  mg 

15 

7.0 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.17  mg 

14 

6.6 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.19  mg 

11 

5.2 

very  good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.47  mg 

9 

4.4 

very  good 

phosphorus 

59.04  mg 

8 

3.9 

very  good 

protein 

3.70  g 

7 

3.4 

very  good 

zinc 

0.72  mg 

7 

3.0 

good 

folate 

20.16  meg 

5 

2.3 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.72  mg 

5 

2.1 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=l  .5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Carter  P,  Gray  LJ,  Troughton  J,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  intake  and  incidence  of  type  2 diabetes  mellitus:  systematic 
review  and  meta-analysis.  BMJ.  2010  Aug  18;341:c4229.  doi:  10.1136/bmj.c4229. 

• Freidig  AK  and  Goldman  1L.  Variation  in  Oxalic  Acid  Content  among  Commercial  Table  Beet  Cultivars  and  Related 
Crops.  Journal  of  the  American  Society  for  Horticultural  Science  JASHS  January  2011  vol.  136  no.  1,  pages  54-60. 

• He  FJ,  Nowson  CA,  Lucas  M,  MacGregor  GA.  Increased  consumption  of  fruit  and  vegetables  is  related  to  a reduced  risk 
of  coronary  heart  disease:  meta-analysis  of  cohort  studies.  J Hum  Hypertens.  2007;  21:717 — 28. 

• Hung  HC,  Joshipura  KJ,  Jiang  R,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  intake  and  risk  of  major  chronic  disease.  J Natl  Cancer  Inst. 
2004;96:1577-84. 

• Lucarini  M,  Lanzi  S,  D'Evoli  L et  al.  Intake  of  vitamin  A and  carotenoids  from  the  Italian  population— results  of  an 
Italian  total  diet  study.  Int  J Vitam  Nutr  Res.  2006  May;76(3):  103-9. 

• Norat  T,  Aune  D,  Chan  D,  et  al.  Fruits  and  vegetables:  updating  the  epidemiologic  evidence  for  the  WCRF/AICR 
lifestyle  recommendations  for  cancer  prevention. 

• Cancer  Treat  Res.  2014;159:35-50. 

• Olivares  M,  Pizarro  F,  de  Pablo  S,  et  al.  Iron,  zinc,  and  copper:  contents  in  common  Chilean  foods  and  daily  intakes  in 
Santiago,  Chile.  Nutrition,  Volume  20,  Issue  2,  February  2004,  Pages  205-212. 

• Pennington  JAT  and  Fisher  RA.  Food  component  profiles  for  fruit  and  vegetable  subgroups.  Journal  of  Food 
Composition  and  Analysis,  Volume  23,  Issue  5,  August  2010,  Pages  411-418. 

• Rao  AV  and  Rao  LG.  Carotenoids  and  human  health.  Pharmacological  Research,  Volume  55,  Issue  3,  March  2007,  Pages 
207-216. 

• Simpson  TS,  Savage  GP,  Sherlock  R,  et  al.  Oxalate  content  of  silver  beet  leaves  (Beta  vulgaris  var.  cicla)  at  different 
stages  of  maturation  and  the  effect  of  cooking  with  different  milk  sources.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  Nov 
25;57(22):  10804-8.  doi:  10.1021/jf902124w. 

• Song  W,  Derito  CM,  Liu  MK  et  al.  Cellular  antioxidant  activity  of  common  vegetables.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2010  Jun 
9;58(1 1 ):662 1 -9. 

• Titchenal  CA  and  Dobbs  J.  A system  to  assess  the  quality  of  food  sources  of  calcium. 

• Journal  of  Food  Composition  and  Analysis,  Volume  20,  Issue  8,  December  2007,  Pages  717-724. 

• van  Jaarsveld  P,  Faber  M,  van  Heerden  I,  et  al.  Nutrient  content  of  eight  African  leafy  vegetables  and  their  potential 
contribution  to  dietary  reference  intakes.  Journal  of  Food  Composition  and  Analysis,  Volume  33,  Issue  1,  February  2014, 
Pages  77-84. 

• Wang  C,  Riedl  KM,  Schwartz  SJ  etl  al.  Fate  of  folates  during  vegetable  juice  processing  — Deglutamylation  and 
interconversion.  Food  Research  International,  Volume  53,  Issue  1,  August  2013,  Pages  440-448. 

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Beets 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Beets 

• Beets  are  a unique  source  of  phytonutrients  called  betalains.  Betanin  and  vulgaxanthin  are  the  two  best-studied  betalains 
from  beets,  and  both  have  been  shown  to  provide  antioxidant,  anti-inflammatory,  and  detoxification  support.  The  detox 
support  provided  by  betalains  includes  support  of  some  especially  important  Phase  2 detox  steps  involving  glutathione. 
Although  you  can  see  these  betalain  pigments  in  other  foods  (like  the  stems  of  chard  or  rhubarb),  the  concentration  of 
betalains  in  the  peel  and  flesh  of  beets  gives  you  an  unexpectedly  great  opportunity  for  these  health  benefits. 

• Unlike  some  other  food  pigments,  betalains  undergo  very  steady  loss  from  food  as  the  length  of  cooking  time  is 
increased.  For  example,  one  recent  study  has  shown  the  red  betalain  pigments  in  beets  to  be  far  less  heat  stable  than  red 
anthocyanin  pigments  in  red  cabbage.  The  difference  between  15  minutes  of  steaming  versus  25  minutes  of  steaming,  or 
60  minutes  of  roasting  versus  90  minutes  of  roasting  can  be  significant  in  terms  of  betalain  damage.  For  these  reasons, 
we  recommend  that  you  keep  beet  steaming  times  to  15  minutes  or  less,  and  roasting  times  under  an  hour. 

• An  estimated  10-15%  of  all  U.S.  adults  experience  beeturia  (a  reddening  of  the  urine)  after  consumption  of  beets  in 
everyday  amounts.  While  this  phenomenon  is  not  considered  harmful  in  and  of  itself,  it  may  be  a possible  indicator  of 
the  need  for  healthcare  guidance  in  one  particular  set  of  circumstances  involving  problems  with  iron  metabolism. 
Individuals  with  iron  deficiency,  iron  excess,  or  specific  problems  with  iron  metabolism  are  much  more  likely  to 
experience  beeturia  than  individuals  with  healthy  iron  metabolism.  For  this  reason,  if  you  experience  beeturia  and  have 
any  reason  to  suspect  iron-related  problems,  we  recommend  a healthcare  consult  to  follow  up  on  possible  issues  related 
to  iron  status. 

• In  recent  lab  studies  on  human  tumor  cells,  betanin  pigments  from  beets  have  been  shown  to  lessen  tumor  cell  growth 
through  a number  of  mechanisms,  including  inhibition  of  pro-inflammatory  enzymes  (specifically,  cyclooxygenase 
enzymes).  The  tumor  cell  types  tested  in  these  studies  include  tumor  cells  from  colon,  stomach,  nerve,  lung,  breast, 
prostate  and  testicular  tissue.  While  lab  studies  by  themselves  are  not  proof  of  beets'  anti-cancer  benefits,  the  results  of 
these  studies  are  encouraging  researchers  to  look  more  closely  than  ever  at  the  value  of  betanins  and  other  betalains  in 
beets  for  both  prevention  and  treatment  of  certain  cancer  types. 

• There  has  been  some  confusion  about  the  nutritional  value  of  beets  in  terms  of  their  lutein/zeaxanthin  content.  (Lutein 
and  zeaxanthin  are  two  carotenoid  phytonutrients  that  play  an  important  role  in  health,  and  especially  eye  health.)  Beet 
greens  are  usually  a valuable  source  of  lutein/zeaxanthin.  One  cup  of  raw  beet  greens  may  contain  over  275  micrograms 
of  lutein!  Beet  roots  are  not  nearly  so  concentrated  in  lutein,  although  some  beet  roots  - like  the  roots  of  yellow  beets  - 
may  be  valuable  sources  of  this  carotenoid.  (Lutein  can  contribute  to  the  yellow  color  of  vegetables,  and  so  yellow  root 
vegetables — like  yellow  carrots  or  yellow  beets — often  contain  more  lutein  than  orange  or  red  versions  of  these  foods.) 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

Foods  belonging  to  the  chenopod  family  — including  beets,  chard,  spinach  and  quinoa  — continue  to  show  an  increasing 
number  of  health  benefits  not  readily  available  from  other  food  families.  The  red  and  yellow  betalain  pigments  found  in  this 
food  family,  their  unique  epoxyxanthophyll  carotenoids,  and  the  special  connection  between  their  overall  phytonutrients  and 
our  nervous  system  health  (including  our  specialized  nervous  system  organs  like  the  eye)  point  to  the  chenopod  family  of  foods 
as  unique  in  their  health  value.  While  we  have  yet  to  see  large-scale  human  studies  that  point  to  a recommended  minimum 
intake  level  for  foods  from  this  botanical  family,  we  have  seen  data  on  chenopod  phytonutrients,  and  based  on  this  data,  we 
recommend  that  you  include  foods  from  the  chenopod  family  in  your  diet  1-2  times  per  week.  In  the  case  of  a root  food  like 
beetroot,  we  recommend  a serving  size  of  at  least  one-half  whole  medium  beet,  and  even  more  beneficial,  at  least  1 whole 
medium  beet  so  that  you  can  also  benefit  from  their  nutrient-rich  greens. 

If  long  cooking  times  deter  you  from  cooking  beets,  our  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  beets  will  help  you  prepare  them  in  just  15 
minutes.  Cut  medium  beets  into  quarters  without  removing  the  skin.  Steam  and  serve  as  a great  vegetable  side  dish  or  as  a 
wonderful  addition  to  your  favorite  salad. 

It  is  often  difficult  to  believe  how  the  hardy,  crunchy,  often  rough-looking  exterior  of  raw  beets  can  be  transformed  into 
something  wonderfully  soft  and  buttery  once  they  are  cooked.  See  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Beets  in  the  How  to  Enjoy 
section  below. 


Beets,  sliced,  cooked 

1.00  cup 

Calories:  75 

(170.00  grams) 

GI:  med 

Nutrient  DRI/DV 

folate  34% 

manganese  28% 

potassium  15% 

copper  14% 

fiber  14% 

magnesium  10% 

phosphorus  9% 

vitamin  C 8% 

iron  7% 

vitamin  B6  6% 


Health  Benefits 

Remember  all  those  legendary  Russian  centenarians?  Beets,  frequently  consumed  either  pickled  or  in  borscht,  the  traditional 
Russian  soup,  may  be  one  reason  behind  their  long  and  healthy  lives.  These  colorful  root  vegetables  contain  powerful  nutrient 
compounds  that  help  protect  against  heart  disease,  birth  defects  and  certain  cancers,  especially  colon  cancer. 

Promote  Optimal  Health 

The  pigments  that  give  beets  their  rich  colors  are  called  betalains.  There  are  two  basic  types  of  betalains:  betacyanins  and 
betaxanthins.  Betacyanins  are  pigments  are  red-violet  in  color.  Betanin  is  the  best  studied  of  the  betacyanins.  Betaxanthins  are 
yellowish  in  color.  In  light  or  dark  red,  crimson,  or  purple  colored  beets,  betacyanins  are  the  dominant  pigments.  In  yellow 
beets,  betaxanthins  predominate,  and  particularly  the  betaxanthin  called  vulgaxanthin.  All  betalains  come  from  the  same 
original  molecule  (betalamic  acid).  The  addition  of  amino  acids  or  amino  acid  derivatives  to  betalamic  acid  is  what  determines 
the  specific  type  of  pigment  that  gets  produced.  The  betalain  pigments  in  beets  are  water-soluble,  and  as  pigments  they  are 
somewhat  unusual  due  to  their  nitrogen  content.  Many  of  the  betalains  function  both  as  antioxidants  and  anti-inflammatory 
molecules.  At  the  same  time,  they  themselves  are  also  very  vulnerable  to  oxidation  (change  in  structure  due  to  interaction  with 
oxygen).  In  addition  to  beets,  rhubarb,  chard,  amaranth,  prickly  pear  cactus,  and  Nopal  cactus  are  examples  of  foods  that 
contain  betalains. 

It's  interesting  to  note  that  humans  appear  to  vary  greatly  in  their  response  to  dietary  betalains.  In  the  United  States,  only  1 0- 
15%  of  adults  are  estimated  to  be  "betalain  responders."  A betalain  responder  is  a person  who  has  the  capacity  to  absorb  and 
metabolize  enough  betalains  from  beet  (and  other  foods)  to  gain  full  antioxidant,  anti-inflammatory,  and  Phase  2 triggering 
benefits.  (Phase  2 is  the  second  step  in  our  cellular  detoxification  process). 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

What's  most  striking  about  beets  is  not  the  fact  that  they  are  rich  in  antioxidants;  what's  striking  is  the  unusual  mix  of 
antioxidants  that  they  contain.  We're  used  to  thinking  about  vegetables  as  rich  in  antioxidant  carotenoids,  and  in  particular, 
beta-carotene;  among  all  well-studied  carotenoids,  none  is  more  commonly  occurring  in  vegetables  than  beta-carotene. 

When  it  comes  to  antioxidant  phytonutrients  that  give  most  red  vegetables  their  distinct  color,  we've  become  accustomed  to 
thinking  about  anthocyanins.  (Red  cabbage,  for  example,  gets  it  wonderful  red  color  primarily  from  anthocyanins.)  Beets 
demonstrate  their  antioxidant  uniqueness  by  getting  their  red  color  primarily  from  betalain  antioxidant  pigments  (and  not 
primarily  from  anthocyanins).  Coupled  with  their  status  as  a very  good  source  of  the  antioxidant  manganese  and  a good  source 
of  the  antioxidant  vitamin  C,  the  unique  phytonutrients  in  beets  provide  antioxidant  support  in  a different  way  than  other 
antioxidant-rich  vegetables.  While  research  is  largely  in  the  early  stage  with  respect  to  beet  antioxidants  and  their  special 
benefits  for  eye  health  and  overall  nerve  tissue  health,  we  expect  to  see  study  results  showing  these  special  benefits  and 
recognizing  beets  as  a standout  vegetable  in  this  area  of  antioxidant  support. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

Many  of  the  unique  phytonutrients  present  in  beets  have  been  shown  to  function  as  anti-inflammatory  compounds.  In 
particular,  this  anti-inflammatory  activity  has  been  demonstrated  for  betanin,  isobetanin,  and  vulgaxanthin.  One  mechanism 
allowing  these  phytonutrients  to  lessen  inflammation  is  their  ability  to  inhibit  the  activity  of  cyclo-oxygenase  enzymes 
(including  both  COX-1  and  COX-2).  The  COX  enzymes  are  widely  used  by  cells  to  produce  messaging  molecules  that  trigger 
inflammation.  Under  most  circumstances,  when  inflammation  is  needed,  this  production  of  pro-inflammatory  messaging 
molecules  is  a good  thing.  However,  under  other  circumstances,  when  the  body  is  undergoing  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation, 


production  of  these  inflammatory  messengers  can  make  things  worse.  Several  types  of  heart  disease — including  atherosclerosis 
— are  characterized  by  chronic  unwanted  inflammation.  For  this  reason,  beets  have  been  studied  within  the  context  of  heart 
disease,  and  there  are  some  encouraging  although  very  preliminary  results  in  this  area  involving  animal  studies  and  a few  very 
small  scale  human  studies.  Type  2 diabetes — another  health  problem  associated  with  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation — is  also 
an  area  of  interest  in  this  regard,  with  research  findings  at  a very  preliminary  stage. 

In  addition  to  their  unusual  betalain  and  carotenoid  phytonutrients,  however,  beets  are  also  an  unusual  source  of  betaine. 
Betaine  is  a key  body  nutrient  made  from  the  B-complex  vitamin,  choline.  (Specifically,  betaine  is  simply  choline  to  which 
three  methyl  groups  have  been  attached.)  In  and  of  itself,  choline  is  a key  vitamin  for  helping  regulate  inflammation  in  the 
cardiovascular  system  since  adequate  choline  is  important  for  preventing  unwanted  build-up  of  homocysteine.  (Elevated  levels 
of  homocysteine  are  associated  with  unwanted  inflammation  and  risk  of  cardiovascular  problems  like  atherosclerosis.)  But 
betaine  may  be  even  more  important  in  regulation  of  our  inflammatory  status  as  its  presence  in  our  diet  has  been  associated 
with  lower  levels  of  several  inflammatory  markers,  including  C reactive  protein,  interleukin-6,  and  tumor  necrosis  factor  alpha. 
As  a group,  the  anti-inflammatory  molecules  found  in  beets  may  eventually  be  shown  to  provide  cardiovascular  benefits  in 
large-scale  human  studies,  as  well  as  anti-inflammatory  benefits  for  other  body  systems. 

Support  of  Detoxification 

The  betalin  pigments  present  in  beets  have  repeatedly  been  shown  to  support  activity  in  our  body's  Phase  2 detoxification 
process.  Phase  2 is  the  metabolic  step  that  our  cells  use  to  hook  activated,  unwanted  toxic  substances  up  with  small  nutrient 
groups.  This  "hook  up"  process  effectively  neutralizes  the  toxins  and  makes  them  sufficiently  water-soluble  for  excretion  in  the 
urine.  One  critical  "hook  up"  process  during  Phase  2 involves  an  enzyme  family  called  the  glutathione-S-transferase  family 
(GSTs).  GSTs  hook  toxins  up  with  glutathione  for  neutralization  and  excretion  from  the  body.  The  betalains  found  in  beet  have 
been  shown  to  trigger  GST  activity,  and  to  aid  in  the  elimination  of  toxins  that  require  glutathione  for  excretion.  If  you  are  a 
person  who  thinks  about  exposure  to  toxins  and  wants  to  give  your  body  as  much  detox  support  as  possible,  beets  are  a food 
that  belongs  in  your  diet. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

It's  important  to  note  two  other  areas  of  potential  health  benefits  associated  with  beets:  anti-cancer  benefits  and  fiber-related 
benefits.  The  combination  of  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  molecules  in  beets  makes  this  food  a highly-likely  candidate 
for  risk  reduction  of  many  cancer  types.  Lab  studies  on  human  tumor  cells  have  confirmed  this  possibility  for  colon,  stomach, 
nerve,  lung,  breast,  prostate  and  testicular  cancers.  Eventually,  we  expect  to  see  large-scale  human  studies  that  show  the  risk- 
reducing  effect  of  dietary  beet  intake  for  many  of  these  cancer  types. 

Beet  fiber  has  also  been  a nutrient  of  increasing  interest  in  health  research.  While  many  people  tend  to  lump  all  food  fiber  into 
one  single  category  called  "dietary  fiber,"  there  is  evidence  to  suggest  that  all  dietary  fiber  is  not  the  same.  Beet  fiber  (along 
with  carrot  fiber)  are  two  specific  types  of  food  fiber  that  may  provide  special  health  benefits,  particularly  with  respect  to 
health  of  our  digestive  tract  (including  prevention  of  colon  cancer)  and  our  cardiovascular  system.  Some  beet  fiber  benefits 
may  be  due  to  the  pectin  polysaccharides  that  significantly  contribute  to  the  total  fiber  content. 

Description 

Both  beets  and  Swiss  chard  are  different  varieties  within  the  same  plant  family  ( Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae ) and  their 
edible  leaves  share  a resemblance  in  both  taste  and  texture.  Attached  to  the  beet's  green  leaves  is  a round  or  oblong  root,  the 
part  conjured  up  in  most  people's  minds  by  the  word  "beet."  Although  typically  a beautiful  reddish-purple  hue,  beets  also  come 
in  varieties  that  feature  white,  golden/yellow  or  even  rainbow  color  roots.  No  matter  what  their  color,  however,  beet  roots  aren't 
as  hardy  as  they  look;  the  smallest  bruise  or  puncture  will  cause  red  beets'  red-purple  pigments  (which  contain  a variety  of 
phytonutrients  including  betalains  and  anthocyanins)  to  bleed,  especially  during  cooking.  Betalain  pigments  in  beets  are 
highly-water  soluble,  and  they  are  also  temperature  sensitive.  For  both  of  these  reasons,  it  is  important  to  treat  beets  as  a 
delicate  food,  even  though  they  might  seem  "rock  solid"  and  difficult  to  damage. 

Beets'  sweet  taste  reflects  their  high  sugar  content,  which  makes  beets  an  important  source  for  the  production  of  refined  sugar 
(yet,  the  beets  that  are  used  for  sugar  consumption  are  of  a different  type  than  the  beets  that  you  purchase  in  the  store).  Raw 
beet  roots  have  a crunchy  texture  that  turns  soft  and  buttery  when  they  are  cooked.  Beet  leaves  have  a lively,  bitter  taste  similar 
to  chard.  The  main  ingredient  in  the  traditional  eastern  European  soup,  borscht,  beets  are  delicious  eaten  raw,  but  are  more 
typically  cooked  or  pickled. 

The  greens  attached  to  the  beet  roots  are  delicious  and  can  be  prepared  like  spinach  or  Swiss  chard.  They  are  incredibly  rich  in 
nutrients,  concentrated  in  vitamins  and  minerals  as  well  as  carotenoids  such  as  beta-carotene  and  lutein/zeaxanthin. 


While  beets  are  available  throughout  the  year,  their  season  runs  from  June  through  October  when  the  youngest,  most  tender 
beets  are  easiest  to  find. 

History 

The  wild  beet,  the  ancestor  of  the  beet  with  which  we  are  familiar  today,  is  thought  to  have  originated  in  prehistoric  times  in 
North  Africa  and  grew  wild  along  Asian  and  European  seashores.  In  these  earlier  times,  people  exclusively  ate  the  beet  greens 
and  not  the  roots.  The  ancient  Romans  were  one  of  the  first  civilizations  to  cultivate  beets  to  use  their  roots  as  food.  The  tribes 
that  invaded  Rome  were  responsible  for  spreading  beets  throughout  northern  Europe  where  they  were  first  used  for  animal 
fodder  and  later  for  human  consumption,  becoming  more  popular  in  the  16th  century. 

Beets'  value  grew  in  the  1 9th  century  when  it  was  discovered  that  they  were  a concentrated  source  of  sugar,  and  the  first  sugar 
factory  was  built  in  Poland.  When  access  to  sugar  cane  was  restricted  by  the  British,  Napoleon  decreed  that  the  beet  be  used  as 
the  primary  source  of  sugar,  catalyzing  its  popularity.  Around  this  time,  beets  were  also  first  brought  to  the  United  States, 
where  they  now  flourish.  Today  the  leading  commercial  producers  of  beets  include  the  United  States,  the  Russian  Federation, 
France,  Poland,  France  and  Germany. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  small  or  medium-sized  beets  whose  roots  are  firm,  smooth-skinned  and  deep  in  color.  Smaller,  younger  beets  may  be 
so  tender  that  peeling  won't  be  needed  after  they  are  cooked. 

Avoid  beets  that  have  spots,  bruises  or  soft,  wet  areas,  all  of  which  indicate  spoilage.  Shriveled  or  flabby  should  also  be 
avoided  as  these  are  signs  that  the  roots  are  aged,  tough  and  fibrous. 

While  the  quality  of  the  greens  does  not  reflect  that  of  the  roots,  if  you  are  going  to  consume  this  very  nutritious  part  of  the 
plant,  look  for  greens  that  appear  fresh,  tender,  and  have  a lively  green  color. 

Cut  the  majority  of  the  greens  and  their  stems  from  the  beet  roots,  so  they  do  not  pull  away  moisture  away  from  the  root.  Leave 
about  two  inches  of  the  stem  attached  to  prevent  the  roots  from  "bleeding."  Do  not  wash  beets  before  storing.  Place  in  a plastic 
bag  and  wrap  the  bag  tightly  around  the  beets,  squeezing  out  as  much  of  the  air  from  the  bag  as  possible,  and  place  in 
refrigerator  where  they  will  keep  for  up  to  3 weeks.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  beets — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is 
likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

Store  the  unwashed  greens  in  a separate  plastic  bag  squeezing  out  as  much  of  the  air  as  possible.  Place  in  refrigerator  where 
they  will  keep  fresh  for  about  four  days. 

Raw  beets  do  not  freeze  well  since  they  tend  to  become  soft  upon  thawing.  Freezing  cooked  beets  is  fine;  they'll  retain  their 
flavor  and  texture. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Simply  grate  raw  beets  for  a delicious  and  colorful  addition  to  salads  or  decorative  garnish  for  soups. 

• Healthy  Boil  beet  greens  for  1 minute  for  a great  tasting  side  dish,  which  is  very  similar  to  Swiss  chard. 

• Marinate  steamed  beets  in  fresh  lemon  juice,  extra  virgin  olive  oil,  and  fresh  herbs. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Beets 

15-Minute  Beets 


Safety 


Beeturia 


Consumption  of  beets  can  cause  urine  to  become  red  or  pink  in  color.  This  condition"called  beeturia"is  not  considered  harm  fill. 
About  5-15%  of  U.S.  adults  are  estimated  to  experience  beeturia  following  consumption  of  beets  in  everyday  amounts.  One 
area  in  which  beeturia  may  be  a potential  concern  involves  problems  with  iron  metabolism.  Persons  with  iron  deficiency,  iron 
excess,  or  known  problems  with  the  metabolism  of  iron  are  more  likely  to  experience  beeturia.  If  you  experience  beeturia  and 
also  suspect  iron  deficiency,  iron  excess,  or  iron  metabolism  to  be  a problem  affecting  your  health,  we  recommend  that  you 
consult  with  your  healthcare  provider  to  determine  your  best  dietary  and  health  steps. 

It's  possible  for  beet  consumption  to  bring  a red  color  into  your  bowel  movements  as  well,  although  this  outcome  tends  to  be 
more  common  in  children  than  adults.  Once  again,  the  production  of  a reddish  color  in  the  stool  due  to  beets  is  not  considered 
harmful.  It's  important,  however,  to  be  confident  that  the  reddening  of  the  stool  is  caused  by  the  pigments  found  in  beets  and 
not  by  the  presence  of  fresh  or  dried  blood.  If  you  experience  reddening  of  the  stool  and  have  not  recently  (with  the  past  24-48 
hours)  consumed  beets,  we  recommend  that  you  consult  with  your  healthcare  provider  to  determine  the  reason  for  this  change 
in  your  stool  color. 

Oxalate  Content 

Beets  have  consistently  been  determined  to  have  high  oxalate  content.  Oxalates  are  naturally  occurring  organic  acids  found  in  a 
wide  variety  of  foods,  and  in  the  case  of  certain  medical  conditions,  they  must  be  greatly  restricted  in  a meal  plan  to  prevent 
over-accumulation  inside  the  body.  Our  comprehensive  article  about  oxalates  will  provide  you  with  practical  and  detailed 
information  about  these  organic  acids,  food,  and  health. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Beets,  sliced,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  75 

170.00  grams  GI:  med 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

folate 

136.00  meg 

34 

8.2 

excellent 

manganese 

0.55  mg 

28 

6.6 

very  good 

ootassium 

518.50  mg 

15 

3.6 

very  good 

coDDer 

0.13  mg 

14 

3.5 

very  good 

fiber 

3-40  g 

14 

3.3 

good 

magnesium 

39.10  mg 

10 

2.4 

good 

phosphorus 

64.60  mg 

9 

2.2 

good 

vitamin  C 

6.12  mg 

8 

2.0 

good 

iron 

1.34  mg 

7 

1.8 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.11  mg 

6 

1.6 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 


• Augustsson  K,  Michaud  DS,  Rimm  EB,  et  al.  A prospective  study  of  intake  of  fish  and  marine  fatty  acids  and  prostate 
cancer.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2003  May;  12(1)64-7.  2003.  PM1D:  12540506. 

• Bobek  P,  Galbavy  S,  Mariassyova  M.  The  effect  of  red  beet  (Beta  vulgaris  var.  rubra)  fiber  on  alimentary 
hypercholesterolemia  and  chemically  induced  colon  carcinogenesis  in  rats.  Nahrung  2000  Jun;44(3):  184-7.  2000. 

• Elbandy  MA  and  Abdelfadeil  MG.  Stability  of  betalain  pigments  from  a red  beetroot  (Beta  vulgaris).  Poster  Session 
Presentation.  The  First  International  Conference  of  Food  Industries  and  Biotechnology  & Associated  Fair.  Al-Baath 
University,  North  Sinai,  Egypt.  Available  online  at:  www.albaath univ.edu.sy/foodex20 10/connections/  Posters/6.pdf. 
2010. 

• Lee  CH,  Wettasinghe  M,  Bolling  BW  et  al.  Betalains,  phase  II  enzyme-inducing  components  from  red  beetroot  (Beta 
vulgaris  L.)  extracts.  Nutr  Cancer.  2005;53(  1 ):9 1 - 1 03.  2005. 

• Lucarini  M,  Lanzi  S,  D'Evoli  L et  al.  Intake  of  vitamin  A and  carotenoids  from  the  Italian  population— results  of  an 
Italian  total  diet  study.  Int  J Vitam  Nutr  Res.  2006  May;76(3):  103-9.  2006. 

• Reddy  MK,  Alexander-Lindo  RL  and  Nair  MG.  Relative  inhibition  of  lipid  peroxidation,  cyclooxygenase  enzymes,  and 
human  tumor  cell  proliferation  by  natural  food  colors.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2005  Nov  16;53(23):9268-73.  2005. 

• Renner-Nance  J.  Improving  the  stability  and  performance  of  naturally  derived  color  additives.  DD  Williamson  Support 
Center  Presentation,  Louisville,  KY,  June  8,  2009.  Available  online  at: 
www.naturalcolors.com/./File/naturalcolors/./Sessionl39-02.pdf.  2009. 

• Song  W,  Derito  CM,  Liu  MK  et  al.  Cellular  antioxidant  activity  of  common  vegetables.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2010  Jun 
9;58(ll):6621-9.  2010. 

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For  education  only,  consult  a healthcare  practitioner  for  any  health  problems. 

© 2001-2016  The  George  Mateljan  Foundation,  All  Rights  Reserved 


Bell  peppers 

About  Bell  Peppers 

A wonderful  combination  of  tangy  taste  and  crunchy  texture,  sweet  bell  peppers  are  the  Christmas  ornaments  of  the  vegetable 
world  with  their  beautifully  shaped  glossy  exterior  that  comes  in  a wide  array  of  vivid  colors  ranging  from  green,  red,  yellow, 
orange,  purple,  brown  to  black.  Despite  their  varied  palette,  all  are  the  same  plant,  known  scientifically  as  Capsicum  annuum. 
They  are  members  of  the  nightshade  family,  which  also  includes  potatoes,  tomatoes  and  eggplant.  Sweet  peppers  are  plump, 
bell-shaped  vegetables  featuring  either  three  or  four  lobes.  Green  and  purple  peppers  have  a slightly  bitter  flavor,  while  the  red, 
orange  and  yellows  are  sweeter  and  almost  fruity.  Paprika  can  be  prepared  from  red  bell  peppers  (as  well  as  from  chili 
peppers).  Bell  peppers  are  not  'hot'.  The  primary  substance  that  controls  "hotness"  in  peppers  is  called  capsaicin,  and  it's  found 
in  very  small  amounts  in  bell  peppers.  Although  peppers  are  available  throughout  the  year,  they  are  most  abundant  and  tasty 
during  the  summer  and  early  fall  months. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Bell  Peppers 

• Bell  pepper  is  not  only  an  excellent  source  of  carotenoids,  but  also  a source  of  over  30  different  members  of  the 
carotenoid  nutrient  family.  A recent  study  from  Spain  took  a close  look  vitamin  C,  vitamin  E,  and  six  of  these 
carotenoids  (alpha-carotene,  beta-carotene,  lycopene,  lutein,  cryptoxanthin  and  zeaxanthin)  in  all  commonly  eaten  foods 
and  found  that  only  two  vegetables  contained  at  least  two-thirds  of  all  the  listed  nutrients.  One  of  these  foods  was 
tomato,  and  the  other  was  sweet  bell  pepper!  Bell  pepper  alone  provided  12%  of  the  total  zeaxanthin  found  in  the 
participants'  diets.  (Bell  pepper  also  provided  7%  of  the  participants'  total  vitamin  C intake.) 

• If  you  want  to  maximize  the  availability  of  vitamin  C and  carotenoids  from  bell  pepper,  allow  this  amazing  vegetable  to 
ripen.  Recent  studies  have  shown  that  the  vitamin  C content  and  the  carotenoid  content  of  bell  pepper  both  increase  with 
ripening.  When  the  vitamin  C and  carotenoid  content  of  bell  peppers  increases,  so  does  their  total  antioxidant  capacity, 
which  can  be  a source  of  great  health  benefits.  Growers  can  allow  bell  peppers  to  ripen  on  the  plant  prior  to  harvest 
(which  means  that  you  will  be  able  to  purchase  them  in  the  grocery  store  in  a ripened  state).  Or,  if  harvested  early  in  the 
ripening  stage,  bell  peppers  can  still  be  allowed  to  ripen  post-harvest  and  after  you've  purchased  them  and  brought  them 
home  from  the  market.  In  one  recent  study,  the  vitamin  C in  not-fully-ripe  bell  peppers  continued  to  increase  during 
home  storage  over  a period  of  about  10  days.  It  can,  though,  be  difficult  to  tell  whether  a bell  pepper  is  optimally  ripe. 
Most— but  not  all— green  bell  peppers  will  turn  red  in  color  over  time,  but  they  may  be  optimally  ripe  before  shifting  over 
from  green  to  red.  A good  rule  of  thumb  is  to  judge  less  by  their  basic  color  and  more  by  their  color  quality  as  well  as 
overall  texture  and  feel.  Whether  green,  red,  yellow,  or  orange,  optimally  ripe  bell  peppers  will  have  deep,  vivid  colors, 
feel  heavy  for  their  size,  and  be  firm  enough  to  yield  only  slightly  to  pressure. 

• Higher  heat  cooking  can  damage  some  of  the  delicate  phytonutrients  in  bell  peppers.  In  one  recent  study  from  Turkey, 
the  effects  of  grilling  on  sweet  green  bell  peppers  were  studied  with  respect  to  one  particular  phytonutrient-the 
flavonoid  called  luteolin.  Prior  to  grilling,  the  bell  peppers  were  found  to  contain  about  46  milligrams/kilogram  of  this 
important  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  flavonoid.  After  grilling  for  7-8  minutes  at  a temperature  of  150°C  (302°F), 
about  40%  of  the  luteolin  was  found  to  be  destroyed.  This  loss  of  luteolin  from  higher  heat  cooking  is  one  of  the  reasons 
we  like  cooking  methods  for  bell  peppers  that  use  lower  heat  for  a very  short  period  of  time. 

• Although  we  tend  to  think  about  cruciferous  vegetables  like  broccoli  or  allium  vegetables  like  onions  and  garlic  as 
vegetables  that  are  richest  in  sulfur-containing  compounds,  bell  peppers  can  also  be  valuable  sources  of  health- 
supportive  sulfur  compounds.  Several  recent  studies  have  taken  a close  look  at  the  presence  of  enzymes  in  bell  peppers 
called  cysteine  S-conjugate  beta-lvases  and  their  role  in  a sulfur-containing  metabolic  pathway  called  the  thiomethyl 
shunt.  These  enzymes  and  this  pathway  may  be  involved  in  some  of  the  anti-cancer  benefits  that  bell  pepper  has  shown 
in  some  animal  and  lab  studies.  They  may  serve  as  the  basis  for  some  of  the  anti-cancer  benefits  shown  by  green,  yellow, 
red  and  orange  vegetable  intake  in  recent  studies,  including  a recent  study  on  risk  reduction  for  gastric  cancer  and 
esophageal  cancer. 


Bell  Peppers,  sliced,  red,  raw 
1.00  cup 
(92.00  grams) 


Calories:  29 

GI:  very  low 


Nutrient 


DRI/DV 


vitamin  C 

157% 

vitamin  B6 

16% 

vitamin  A 

16% 

folate 

11% 

molybdenum 

10% 

vitamin  E 

10% 

fiber 

7% 

nantothenic  acid 

6% 

potassium 

6% 

vitamin  B3 

6% 

vitamin  B2 

6% 

vitamin  K 

5% 

manganese 

5% 

vitamin  B 1 

4% 

phosphorus 

3% 

magnesium 

3% 

Health  Benefits 

While  bell  peppers  are  a very  popular  vegetable,  they  have  not  always  shared  the  health  research  spotlight  with  other  members 
of  the  pepper  family  due  to  their  very  minimal  content  of  the  phytonutrient  capsaicin,  the  well-researched  pepper  compound 
that  gives  hot  peppers  their  "heat."  Once  active  in  the  body,  capsaicin  can  bind  onto  nerve  cell  receptors  and  change  pain 
sensation,  and  it  may  also  have  important  anti-cancer  and  blood-sugar  balancing  properties.  However,  the  lack  of  "heat"  or 
significant  amounts  of  capsaicin  in  bell  peppers  does  not  mean  that  this  vegetable  should  be  denied  the  health  research 
spotlight! 

The  actual  nutrient  and  phytonutrient  content  of  bell  peppers  is  impressive  - and  also  somewhat  surprising  given  the  very  low- 
fat  nature  of  this  vegetable  (some  nutrients  and  phtyonutrients  are  fat-soluble  and  hence  for  them  to  be  present  the  food  needs 
to  contain  some  fat).  There  is  far  less  than  1 gram  of  total  fat  in  one  cup  of  sliced  bell  pepper.  However,  this  very  small  amount 
of  fat  is  enough  to  provide  a reliable  storage  spot  for  bell  pepper's  fat-soluble  nutrients,  including  its  fat-soluble  carotenoids 
and  vitamin  E.  Bell  pepper  is  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  E at  about  1 .45  milligrams  per  cup,  and  it  contains  more  than  30 
different  carotenoids,  including  excellent  amounts  of  beta-carotene  and  zeaxanthin.  Both  of  these  carotenoids  provide 
antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  health  benefits.  Within  this  Health  Benefits  section,  we'll  focus  on  two  areas  of  bell  pepper 
research:  research  on  the  antioxidant  benefits,  and  research  on  potential  anti-cancer  benefits. 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

While  research  studies  have  tended  to  focus  on  carotenoids  as  the  hallmark  antioxidants  in  bell  pepper,  this  vegetable  actually 
provides  us  with  a very  broad  range  of  antioxidants.  In  terms  of  conventional  nutrients,  bell  pepper  is  an  excellent  source  of 
vitamin  C at  117  milligrams  per  cup.  (That's  more  than  twice  the  amount  of  vitamin  C found  in  a typical  orange.)  Bell  pepper 
is  also  a good  source  of  another  antioxidant  vitamin— vitamin  E.  In  addition  to  these  conventional  antioxidant  vitamins,  bell 
pepper  is  also  a good  source  of  the  antioxidant  mineral  manganese.  The  list  of  bell  pepper  phytonutrients  is  also  impressive 
and  includes: 

• Flavonoids 

o luteolin 
o quercetin 
o hesperidin 

• Carotenoids 

o alpha-carotene 
o beta-carotene 
o cryptoxanthin 
o lutein 
o zeaxanthin 

• Hydroxycinnamic  Acids 

o ferulic  acid 
o cinnamic  acid 

Within  this  list  of  phytonutrient  antioxidants,  it's  understandable  why  carotenoids  have  been  singled  out  for  research  attention. 
Among  the  five  carotenoids  listed  above,  bell  pepper  contains  concentrated  amounts  of  beta-carotene  and  zeaxanthin.  (One  cup 
of  freshly  sliced  red  bell  pepper,  for  example,  contains  about  1,500  micrograms  of  beta-carotene,  or  the  same  as  one  third  of  a 
small  carrot.)  In  a recent  study  from  Spain,  researchers  took  a close  look  at  vitamin  C,  vitamin  E,  and  six  different  carotenoids 
(alpha-carotene,  beta-carotene,  lycopene,  lutein,  cryptoxanthin  and  zeaxanthin)  found  in  all  commonly  eaten  foods.  Only  two 
vegetables  were  determined  to  contain  at  least  two-thirds  of  these  nutrients.  One  of  these  foods  was  tomato,  and  the  other  was 


sweet  bell  pepper!  In  addition,  bell  pepper  alone  was  determined  to  provide  12%  of  the  total  zeaxanthin  found  in  the 
participants'  diets!  Bell  pepper  alone  was  also  found  to  provide  7%  of  the  participants'  total  vitamin  C intake. 

This  remarkable  track  record  for  bell  peppers  as  an  antioxidant-rich  food  has  yet  to  be  translated  into  research  on  risk  reduction 
for  disease.  We  expect  to  see  antioxidant  benefits  specifically  from  bell  peppers  showing  up  in  a wide  variety  of  human  health 
studies,  including  studies  on  prevention  of  cardiovascular  disease  and  prevention  of  type  2 diabetes.  We  also  expect  to  see 
antioxidant  benefits  showing  up  strongly  in  the  area  of  eye  health.  Just  one  cup  of  sweet  green  bell  pepper  slices  provides  us 
with  314  micrograms  (combined)  of  the  carotenoids  lutein  and  zeaxanthin.  These  two  particular  carotenoids  are  found  in  high 
concentrations  in  the  macula  of  the  eye  (the  centermost  part  of  the  retina),  and  they  are  required  for  protection  of  the  macula 
from  oxygen-related  damage.  In  one  condition  called  age-related  macular  degeneration,  or  AMD,  the  macula  of  the  eye  can 
become  damaged  and  vision  can  become  lost.  (In  the  U.S.,  AMD  is  the  leading  case  of  blindness  in  adults  over  the  age  of  60.) 
We  suspect  that  future  human  studies  will  show  risk  reduction  for  AMD  with  routine  intake  of  bell  peppers  due  to  their  strong 
antioxidant  benefits  (and  in  particular,  their  unique  concentration  of  lutein  and  zeaxanthin). 

Potential  Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

As  a food  that  is  rich  in  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients,  bell  pepper  would  be  expected  to  provide  us  with 
important  anti-cancer  benefits.  Exposure  to  chronic  excessive  inflammation  and  chronic  unwanted  oxidative  stress  can  increase 
the  risk  of  cancer  development  for  most  cancer  types,  and  both  of  these  factors  can  be  partly  offset  by  diet.  (Regular  intake  of 
antioxidant  nutrients  can  lower  the  likelihood  of  chronic  oxidative  stress,  and  regular  intake  of  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  can 
lower  the  likelihood  of  chronic  excessive  inflammation.)  With  a rich  supply  of  phytonutrients  that  have  antioxidant  and  anti- 
inflammatory properties,  bell  peppers  would  be  expected  to  help  offset  these  factors  and  lower  our  risk  of  cancer  development. 
Unfortunately,  large-scale  human  research  studies  have  not  tried  to  isolate  the  impact  of  bell  peppers  on  cancer  risk.  At  best, 
they  have  usually  grouped  bell  peppers  among  other  vegetables  and  analyzed  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  vegetables  as  a group. 
Still,  we  very  much  expect  to  see  future  studies  documenting  the  specific  benefits  of  bell  peppers  for  risk  reduction  of  cancer. 
Based  on  preliminary  studies  on  animals  and  in  the  lab,  cancers  of  the  digestive  tract  (including  gastric  cancer  and  esophageal 
cancer)  may  be  areas  in  which  bell  peppers  end  up  showing  a special  potential  for  support. 

Alongside  of  this  antioxidant/anti-inflammatory  component  of  bell  peppers'  potential  anti-cancer  benefits  is  a second,  less 
expected  component.  This  second  component  involves  the  metabolism  of  sulfur  compounds  in  bell  pepper,  and  in  particular 
the  metabolism  of  the  sulfur-containing  amino  acid  cysteine.  While  bell  pepper  is  not  high  in  either  protein  or  in  the  amino 
acid  cysteine,  it  may  be  unusual  in  its  metabolism  of  this  amino  acid.  Several  recent  studies  have  taken  a close  look  at  the 
presence  of  enzymes  in  bell  peppers  called  cysteine  S-conjugate  beta-lvases  and  their  role  in  a sulfur-containing  metabolic 
pathway  called  the  thiomethyl  shunt.  These  enzymes  and  this  pathway  may  be  involved  in  some  of  the  anti-cancer  benefits  that 
bell  pepper  has  shown  in  some  preliminary  animal  and  lab  studies.  They  may  serve  as  the  basis  for  some  of  the  anti-cancer 
benefits  shown  by  green,  yellow,  red  and  orange  vegetable  intake  in  recent  studies,  including  a recent  study  on  risk  reduction 
for  gastric  cancer  and  esophageal  cancer. 

Description 

Bell  peppers  belong  to  the  nightshade  (Solanaceae)  family  of  plants,  along  with  chili  pepper,  cayenne  pepper,  eggplant, 
tomatoes  and  potatoes  (except  sweet  potatoes  and  yams).  Their  scientific  name  is  Capsicum  annuum.  This  scientific  name, 
however,  is  used  to  refer  not  only  to  bell  peppers,  but  also  to  wax  peppers,  cayenne  peppers,  chili  peppers,  and  jalapeno 
peppers. 

While  we  are  most  accustomed  to  seeing  green  bell  peppers  in  the  supermarket,  these  delicious  vegetables  actually  come  in  a 
wide  variety  of  colors,  including  yellow,  orange,  red,  purple,  brown  and  black.  The  green  bell  peppers  you  purchase  in  the  food 
market  may  actually  be  immature,  non-ripe  versions  of  these  other  color  varieties.  Not  all  bell  peppers  start  off  green,  however, 
nor  do  green  bell  peppers  always  mature  into  other  basic  colors. 

Paprika  is  a dried  powdered  form  of  bell  pepper,  and  even  though  we  are  used  to  seeing  red  paprika  in  the  spice  section  of  the 
grocery,  a paprika  can  be  made  from  any  color  of  bell  pepper  and  it  will  end  up  being  that  same  color  once  dried  and  ground 
into  powder. 

Bell  peppers  can  be  eaten  at  any  stage  of  development.  However,  recent  research  has  shown  that  the  vitamin  C and  carotenoid 
content  of  bell  peppers  tends  to  increase  while  the  pepper  is  reaching  its  optimal  ripeness.  Bell  peppers  are  also  typically  more 
flavorful  when  optimally  ripe. 


History 


Bell  peppers  have  been  cultivated  for  more  than  9000  years,  with  the  earliest  cultivation  having  taken  place  in  South  and 
Central  America.  While  the  name  "pepper"  was  given  to  this  food  by  European  colonizers  of  North  America  who  first  came 
across  it  in  the  1500-1600's  and  then  transported  it  back  to  Europe,  the  original  name  for  this  food  in  Spanish  was  pimiento. 

Because  bell  peppers  can  be  grown  in  a variety  of  climates  and  are  popular  in  cuisines  throughout  the  world,  they  can 
frequently  be  found  on  small  farms  in  North  America,  Central  America,  South  America,  Europe,  Africa,  the  Middle  East,  and 
parts  of  Asia.  In  terms  of  commercial  production,  however,  China  has  become  by  far  the  largest  producer  of  bell  peppers  and 
produced  14  million  metric  tons  in  2007.  At  about  2 million  metric  tons,  Mexico  is  the  second  largest  commercial  producer, 
followed  by  the  United  States  at  approximately  1 million  metric  tons. 

Within  the  U.S.,  California  and  Florida  are  the  largest  bell  pepper-producing  states.  (In  terms  of  chili  pepper  production, 
however,  New  Mexico  currently  stands  in  first  place.) . The  average  U.S.  adult  consumes  about  16  pounds  of  peppers  per  year, 
including  almost  9.5  pounds  of  bell  peppers. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  peppers  that  have  deep  vivid  colors,  taut  skin,  and  that  are  free  of  soft  spots,  blemishes  and  darkened  areas.  Their 
stems  should  be  green  and  fresh  looking.  Peppers  should  be  heavy  for  their  size  (reflecting  their  thick,  well- formed  and  well- 
hydrated  walls)  and  firm  enough  so  that  they  will  only  yield  slightly  to  a small  amount  of  pressure.  Avoid  those  that  have  signs 
of  decay  including  injuries  to  the  skin  or  water-soaked  areas.  The  shape  of  the  pepper  does  not  generally  affect  the  quality, 
although  it  may  result  in  excessive  waste  or  not  be  suitable  to  certain  recipe  preparations.  Peppers  are  available  throughout  the 
year  but  are  usually  in  greater  abundance  during  the  summer  and  early  fall  months. 

It  can  be  difficult  to  tell  whether  a bell  pepper  is  optimally  ripe,  but  from  a nutritional  and  health  standpoint,  it  is  definitely 
worth  paying  attention  to  the  degree  of  ripeness  in  your  bell  peppers.  You  don't  want  them  to  be  overly  ripe  to  the  point  of 
getting  too  soft,  wrinkly,  or  blemished.  In  fact,  if  bell  peppers  are  optimally  ripe  at  the  time  of  purchase,  they  can  lose  up  to 
15%  of  their  vitamin  C content  over  the  course  of  10-day  storage  in  the  refrigerator  and  up  to  25%  of  their  vitamin  C over  20- 
days  of  refrigerator  storage  time.  However,  if  not  optimally  ripe  at  the  time  of  purchase,  the  vitamin  C and  carotenoids  in  bell 
peppers  will  actually  increase  with  refrigerator  storage  over  the  next  10  days.  So  as  you  can  see,  there  is  a delicate  balance  in 
terms  of  optimal  ripeness!  We  encourage  you  not  to  worry  about  eating  bell  peppers  that  are  not  yet  optimally  ripe,  because 
they  can  still  provide  you  with  outstanding  health  benefits.  But  for  optimal  vitamin  C and  carotenoid  benefits,  you  may  want  to 
experiment  a little  and  see  if  you  can  develop  a skill  for  evaluating  ripeness  in  this  vegetable.  Unfortunately,  you  cannot  use 
basic  color  as  your  primary  guideline.  Most  - but  not  all  - green  bell  peppers  will  turn  red  in  color  over  time,  but  they  may  be 
optimally  ripe  before  shifting  over  from  green  to  red.  (There  are  also  some  varieties  of  bell  peppers  which  never  start  out 
green.)  A good  rule  of  thumb  is  to  judge  not  by  the  color  itself  but  by  the  color  quality  and  overall  texture  and  feel.  Whether 
green,  red,  yellow,  or  orange,  optimally  ripe  bell  peppers  will  have  deep,  vivid  colors,  will  feel  heavy  for  their  size,  and  will  be 
firm  enough  to  yield  only  slightly  to  pressure. 

Unwashed  sweet  peppers  stored  in  the  vegetable  compartment  of  the  refrigerator  will  keep  for  approximately  7-10  days.  Loss 
of  some  nutrients  in  bell  peppers — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through 
refrigeration.Because  bell  peppers  need  to  still  well  hydrated  and  are  very  sensitive  to  moisture  loss,  we  further  recommend 
that  you  include  a damp  cloth  or  paper  towel  in  the  vegetable  compartment  to  help  the  peppers  retain  their  moisture.  Do  not  cut 
out  the  bell  pepper  stem  prior  to  storage  in  the  refrigerator.  Bell  peppers  are  especially  sensitive  to  moisture  loss  through  this 
stem  (calyx)  portion  and  are  more  susceptible  to  chilling  injury  if  the  stem  is  removed.  Sweet  peppers  can  be  frozen  without 
first  being  blanched.  It  is  better  to  freeze  them  whole  since  there  will  be  less  exposure  to  air  which  can  degrade  both  their 
nutrient  content  and  flavor. 

Although  most  people  would  not  consider  washing  bell  peppers  under  hot  water,  we  want  to  be  clear  about  the  disadvantages 
of  doing  so.  A recent  study  has  shown  that  bell  peppers  retain  more  of  their  total  antioxidant  capacity  when  washed  under  cold 
versus  hot  water. 

Finally,  if  you  are  going  to  consume  your  bell  peppers  within  a day  or  two  and  suspect  that  they  are  not  fully  ripe,  you  may 
want  to  consider  storing  them  without  refrigeration.  We've  seen  one  recent  study  showing  that  room  temperature  storage  of 
20°C  (68°F)  can  improve  the  availability  of  fat-soluble  carotenoids  in  bell  peppers  that  are  not  yet  optimally  ripe. 


How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 


• Add  finely  chopped  bell  peppers  to  tuna  or  chicken  salad. 

• After  Healthy  Sauteeing  chopped  peppers,  celery  and  onions,  combine  with  tofu,  chicken  or  seafood  to  make  a simple 
Louisiana  Creole  dish. 

• Puree  roasted  and  peeled  peppers  with  Healthy  Sauteed  onions  and  zucchini  to  make  a deliciously  refreshing  soup  that 
can  be  served  hot  or  cold. 

• Bell  peppers  are  one  of  the  best  vegetables  to  serve  in  a erudite  platter  since  not  only  do  they  add  a brilliant  splash  of 
color,  but  their  texture  is  also  the  perfect  crunchy  complement  for  dips. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Include  Bell  Peppers 

• Italian  Tofu  Frittata 

• 1 5-Minute  Black  Bean  Salad 

• Healthy  Caesar  Salad 

• Healthy  Veggie  Salad 

• Caiun  Kidney  Bean  Chili 

• Seafood  Gazpacho 

• Spicy  Posole  Soup 

• Zestv  Mexican  Soup 

• 15-Minute  Maui-Stvle  Cod 

• Mediterranean  Cod 

• Salmon  with  Dill  Sauce 

• Southwestern  Salmon  & Black  Beans 

• 15-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Asparagus  and  Tofu 

• Black  Bean  Burrito.  Indian  Style 

• Black  Bean  Chili 

• Braised  Kidney  Beans  & Sweet  Potato 

• Mediterranean  Lentil  Salad 

• Moroccan  Eggplant  with  Garbanzo  Beans 

• Primavera  Verde 

• Spicy  Black  Bean  Burrito 

• 5 -Minute  Cold  Cucumber  Salad 

• Romaine  & Avocado  Salad 

• Garlic  Dip  with  Crudites 

• Sauteed  Vegetables  with  Cashews 

• Tahini  and  Crudites  Appetizer 

Safety 

Bell  Pepper  Belongs  to  the  Nightshade  Family 

Bell  Pepper  is  one  of  the  vegetables  that  belong  to  the  nightshade  (Solanaceae)  family.  For  helpful  information  about 
nightshade  vegetables — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article,  Which  foods  are  classified  as 
"nightshades."  and  is  it  true  that  foods  from  this  group  can  potentially  contain  problematic  substances? 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Bell  Peppers,  sliced,  red,  raw 
1.00  cup 

Calories:  29 

92.00  grams 

GI:  very  low 

Nutrient 


Amount 


DRI/DV 

(%) 


Nutrient 

Density 


World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 


vitamin  C 

117.48  mg 

157 

98.9 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

144.03  meg  RAE 

16 

10.1 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.27  mg 

16 

10.0 

excellent 

folate 

42.32  meg 

11 

6.7 

very  good 

molvbdenum 

4.60  meg 

10 

6.5 

very  good 

vitamin  E 

1.45  mg  (ATE) 

10 

6.1 

very  good 

fiber 

1-85  g 

7 

4.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.08  mg 

6 

3.9 

very  good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.29  mg 

6 

3.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B3 

0.90  mg 

6 

3.6 

very  good 

ootassium 

194.12  mg 

6 

3.5 

very  good 

vitamin  K 

4.51  meg 

5 

3.2 

good 

maneanese 

0.10  mg 

5 

3.2 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.05  mg 

4 

2.6 

good 

nhosnhorus 

23.92  mg 

3 

2.2 

good 

maenesium 

11.04  mg 

3 

1.7 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Agricultural  Marketing  Resource  Center  (AgMRC).  Bell  and  Chili  Peppers  Profile.  (201 1).  Iowa  State  University,  Ames, 
10.  Available  online  at:  http://www.agmrc.org.  2011. 

• Alpay  K,.  Ertas  M,  Orhan  EK  et  al.  Diet  restriction  in  migraine,  based  on  IgG  against  foods:  A clinical  double-blind, 
randomised,  cross-over  trial.  Cephalalgia.  2010  July;  30(7):  829 — 837.  2010. 

• Ambrosini  GL,  de  Klerk  NH,  Fritschi  L et  al.  Fruit,  vegetable,  vitamin  A intakes,  and  prostate  cancer  risk.  Prostate 
Cancer  Prostatic  Dis.  2008; ll(l):61-6.  2008. 

• Chassy  AW,  Bui  L,  Renaud  EN  et  al.  Three-year  comparison  of  the  content  of  antioxidant  microconstituents  and  several 
quality  characteristics  in  organic  and  conventionally  managed  tomatoes  and  bell  peppers.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2006  Oct 
18;54(21):8244-52.  2006. 

• Cooper  AJL,  Krasnikov  BF,  Niatsetskaya  ZV  et  al.  Cysteine  S-conjugate  (3-lyases:  Important  roles  in  the  metabolism  of 
naturally  occurring  sulfur  and  selenium-containing  compounds,  xenobiotics  and  anticancer  agents.  Amino  Acids.  2011 
June;  41(1):  7— 27.  2011. 

• Core  J.  Grower's  Choice:  Organic  and  Conventional  Vegetable  Production  Explored.  Agricultural  Research.  Washington: 
Apr  2006.  Vol.  54,  Iss.  4;  p.  20-21.  2006. 

• Devore  EE,  Grodstein  F,  van  Rooij  FJA  et  al.  Dietary  antioxidants  and  long-term  risk  of  dementia.  Arch  Neurol.  2010 
July;  67(7):  819— 825.2010. 

• Durucasu  I and  Tokusoglu  O.  Effects  of  Grilling  on  Luteolin  (3',4',5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone)  Content  in  Sweet  Green 
Bell  Pepper  (Capsicum  annuum).  Pakistan  Journal  of  Biological  Sciences  Year:  2007  Vol:  10  Issue:  19  Pages/record  No.: 
3410-3414.2007. 

• Garcia-Closas  R,  Berenguer  A,  Sanchez  MJ  et  al.  Dietary  sources  of  vitamin  C,  vitamin  E and  specific  carotenoids  in 
Spain.  The  British  Journal  of  Nutrition.  Cambridge:  Jun  2004.  Vol.  91,  Iss.  6;  p.  1005-1011.  2004. 

• Kollmannsberger  H,  Rodriguez-Burmezo  A,  Nitz  S et  al.  Volatile  and  capsaicinoid  composition  of  aji  (Capsicum 
baccatum)  and  rocoto  (Capsicum  pubescens),  two  Andean  species  of  chile  peppers.  J Sci  Food  Agric.  201 1 
Jul;9 1 (9):  1598-611. 2011. 

• Kumar  R,  Dwivedi  N,  Singh  RK  et  al.  A review  on  molecular  characterization  of  pepper  for  capsaicin  and  oleoresin.  Int 
J Plant  Breeding  and  Genetics  2011,  5(2):  99-110.  2011. 


Lalitha  V,  Kiran  B and  Raveesha.  Antifungal  and  antibacterial  potentiality  of  six  essential  oils  extracted  from  plant 
source.  International  Journal  of  Engineering  Science  and  Technology  Year:  2011  Vol:  3 Issue:  4 Pages/record  No.:  3029- 
3038.2011. 

Naef  R,  Velluz  A and  Jaquier  A.  New  volatile  sulfur-containing  constituents  in  a simultaneous  distillation-extraction 
extract  of  red  bell  peppers  (Capsicum  annuum).  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2008  Jan  23;56(2):5 17-27.  2008. 

O'Sullivan  L,  Jiwan  MA,  Daly  T,  O'Brien  NM  et  al.  Bioaccessibility,  uptake,  and  transport  of  carotenoids  from  peppers 
(Capsicum  spp.)  using  the  coupled  in  vitro  digestion  and  human  intestinal  Caco-2  cell  model.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2010 
May  12;58(9):5374-9.  2010. 

Starkenmann  C and  Niclass  Y.  New  cysteine-S-conjugate  precursors  of  volatile  sulfur  compounds  in  bell  peppers 
(Capsicum  annuum  L.  cultivar).  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2011  Apr  13;59(7):3358-65.  2011. 

Zoran  I,  Avital  BY,  Yaccov  P et  al.  Total  antioxidant  activity  (TAA)  of  bell  pepper  during  prolonged  storage  on  low 
temperature.  Journal  of  Agricultural  Sciences  Year:  2008  Vol:  53  Issue:  1 Pages/record  No.:  3-12.  2008. 


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Bok  choy 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Bok  Choy 

• Because  our  preferred  cooking  method  for  bok  choy  has  always  been  a Healthy  Saute,  we  are  encouraged  to  see  a recent 
study  showing  significantly  improved  availability  of  the  carotenoid  lutein  from  bok  choy  after  stir-frying.  Researchers  in 
this  study  specifically  compared  3 minutes  of  steaming  to  6 minutes  of  stir-frying  (with  constant  stirring  during  the  stir- 
fry  method)  and  found  much  improved  availability  of  lutein  after  stir-frying  versus  steaming. 

• Baby  bok  choy  has  become  more  widely  available  to  U.S.  consumers,  and  this  wider  availability  is  a good  thing  in  terms 
of  nutrition.  A recent  study  has  shown  some  unique  characteristics  of  Baby  Shanghai  bok  choy  in  terms  of  its 
phytonutrient  contents.  Specifically,  among  17  different  cruciferous  vegetables  analyzed  in  the  study,  Baby  Shanghai 
bok  choy  was  the  only  vegetable  to  contain  high  amounts  of  what  the  researchers  called  "Principle  1"  and  "Principle  2" 
phenols.  "Principle  1 " components  were  primarily  flavonoids  (and  especially  flavonoids  related  to  kaempferol  and 
quercetin).  "Principle  2"  components  were  non-flavonoid  phenols,  including  molecules  like  malic  acid  and 
hydroxycinnamic  acid). 

• Phenols  and  other  phytonutrients  in  bok  choy  represent  what  is  now  known  to  be  a full  spectrum  of  over  70  antioxidants 
in  this  cruciferous  vegetable.  The  antioxidant  richness  of  bok  choy  partly  explains  ongoing  investigation  of  bok  choy  in 
relationship  to  cancer  prevention,  since  prevention  and  reduction  of  oxidative  stress  has  often  been  linked  to  decreased 
cancer  risk.  In  most  research  studies,  increased  intake  of  antioxidant  nutrients  from  vegetables  like  bok  choy  has  been 
associated  with  decreased  oxidative  stress,  and  this  connection  is  one  way  that  researchers  explain  the  ability  of  certain 
vegetables  to  lower  cancer  risk.  (Too  much  oxidative  stress  can  leave  our  cells  too  susceptible  to  damage  from  free 
radicals  and  too  much  at  risk  for  potential  transformation  into  pre-cancerous  cells.) 

• Just  like  its  impressive  range  of  antioxidant  phytonutrients,  glucosinolates  are  sulfur-containing  compounds  in  bok  choy 
associated  with  reduced  cancer  risk.  While  all  cruciferous  vegetable  contain  beneficial  amounts  of  glucosinolates,  a 
recent  study  on  the  total  glucosinolate  content  of  bok  choy  shoots  has  caught  our  attention.  This  study  looked  at  very 
early  developmental  forms  of  cruciferous  vegetables  including  their  seeds  (pre-planting);  their  sprouts  (an  early 
germination  form  representing  about  1 week  of  growth);  and  their  shoots  (still  an  early  growth  stage,  but  involving  more 
development  of  plant  structure  including  a well-defined  stem  and  some  leaves  and  representing  about  1 -2  weeks  of 
growth).  What  the  researchers  found  was  a greater  concentration  of  total  glucosinolates  in  the  shoots  of  the  bok  choy 
plants  than  in  the  shoots  of  most  other  cruciferous  vegetables,  including  broccoli,  cabbage,  cauliflower,  and  kale.  Only 
mustard  green  shoots  contained  more  total  glucosinolates  than  the  bok  choy  shoots. 

• Because  of  its  strong  beta-carotene  content,  bok  choy  ranks  as  our  11th  richest  food  in  vitamin  A.  This  vitamin  A 
richness  places  bok  choy  ahead  of  some  of  its  fellow  cruciferous  vegetables,  including  cauliflower,  cabbage,  Brussels 
sprouts,  and  broccoli.  Significant  amounts  of  other  carotenoids — for  example,  lutein — are  also  provided  by  bok  choy. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  bok  choy  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  We  recommend  a cruciferous  vegetable  serving  of  at 
least  3/4  cups  per  day.  Even  more  outstanding  would  be  an  intake  level  of  1-1/2  cups  per  day.  We've  found  bok  choy  to  be  a 
delightful  alternative  among  the  cruciferous  vegetables  for  its  quick  preparation,  enjoyable  and  easy-to-chew  texture,  milder 
and  somewhat  sweet  taste,  and  versatility  in  recipes. 

Enjoy  the  mild  flavor  of  bok  choy  by  using  our  Healthy  Saute  method  of  cooking.  Our  4-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Bok  Choy 
recipe  will  give  you  great  tasting  bok  choy  in  a matter  of  minutes! 


Health  Benefits 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

As  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  C,  vitamin  A (in  the  form  of  carotenoids),  and  manganese,  and  a good  source  of  zinc,  bok 
choy  provides  us  with  a concentration  of  these  core  conventional  antioxidants.  Yet,  its  antioxidant  support  extends  beyond 
these  conventional  antioxidants  to  a wide  range  of  other  phytonutrient  antioxidants.  These  phytonutrients  include  flavonoids 
like  quercetin,  kaempferol,  and  isorhamnetin,  as  well  as  numerous  phenolic  acids  (including  significant  amounts  of 
hydroxycinnamic  acids).  It's  important  to  understand  the  unique  benefits  provided  by  this  diverse  array  of  antioxidants. 
Different  types  of  antioxidants  function  in  different  ways.  While  all  types  are  helpful  in  preventing  unwanted  oxygen  damage 
to  our  cells  and  body  systems,  different  types  of  antioxidants  go  about  this  task  in  different  ways,  and  it  is  the  combination  of 
these  types  in  cruciferous  vegetables — including  bok  choy — that  make  them  so  valuable  in  terms  of  their  antioxidant  support. 
(It  is  also  a key  reason  why  whole,  natural  foods  like  fresh  bok  choy  provide  you  with  benefits  that  antioxidant  supplements 
cannot.)  At  least  one  study  on  bok  choy  has  shown  higher  total  phenol  content  in  organically  grown  versus  non  organically 
grown  bok  choy.  This  study  seems  in  keeping  with  research  showing  overall  greater  nutrient  contents  in  organic  versus  non- 
organic  food.  Still,  we  would  like  to  see  some  follow-up  studies  in  this  area,  since  there  are  many  reasons  why  phenol  content 
in  bok  choy  might  vary  widely. 

One  interesting  option  for  consumers  of  bok  choy  who  are  particularly  interested  in  its  antioxidant  benefits  is  the  commercial 
availability  of  purple  bok  choy.  Sometimes  called  "Purple  Choy"  or  "Pak  Choi  Rubi,"  purple  cultivars  of  this  cruciferous 
vegetable  have  been  shown  to  contain  anthocyanidins — the  red-purple  pigments  that  belong  to  the  flavonoid  category  of 
antioxidants. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

Many  of  the  antioxidant  nutrients  listed  above  also  provide  anti-inflammatory  benefits.  They  not  only  lower  the  risk  of 
oxygen-based  damage  to  your  cells  and  body  systems,  but  they  also  lower  your  risk  of  unwanted  chronic  inflammation.  While 
it  is  a good  thing  for  your  body's  inflammatory  system  to  respond  promptly  to  dangers  or  actual  damage,  it  is  not  a good  thing 
for  it  to  continuously  trigger  inflammatory  responses  when  there  is  not  danger  or  actual  damage.  Anti-inflammatory 
phytonutrients  in  bok  choy  help  prevent  this  type  of  continuous  and  unwanted  inflammation  from  occurring.  Yet  in  addition  to 
these  phytonutrients,  bok  choy  also  provides  you  with  two  additional  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  The  first  of  these  nutrients 
are  omega-3s.  Bok  choy  ranks  as  a good  source  of  omega-3s  in  our  rating  system  due  to  its  significant  amount  of  alpha- 
linolenic  acid  (ALA).  About  70  milligrams  of  ALA  are  found  in  one  cup  of  cooked  bok  choy.  While  this  amount  does  not  put 
bok  choy  anywhere  close  to  the  top  of  our  omega-3  plant  vegetable  list,  it  does  qualify  bok  choy  as  being  about  one-half  as 
concentrated  in  omega-3s  as  walnuts  on  a calorie-for-calorie  basis.  We  have  yet  to  see  research  on  bok  choy's  omega-3  content 
and  inflammation,  but  we  would  expect  this  kind  of  research  to  show  bok  choy  omega-3s  as  being  helpful  in  lowering  risk  of 
unwanted  inflammation. 

Another  anti-inflammatory  nutrient  provided  by  bok  choy  is  vitamin  K.  Bok  choy  ranks  in  our  Top  15  vitamin  K-rich  foods 
and  is  an  excellent  source  of  this  fat-soluble  vitamin.  While  best  know  for  its  role  in  bone  health  and  blood  clotting,  vitamin  K 
has  also  been  shown  to  help  regulate  our  body's  inflammatory  responses,  especially  in  relationship  to  our  cardiovascular 
system. 


Other  Health  Benefits 


Bok  choy  has  been  included  in  human  studies  of  cruciferous  vegetables  that  have  shown  decreasing  risk  of  certain  cancers 
when  these  vegetables  were  consumed  on  a frequent  basis,  usually  involving  one  or  more  daily  servings.  At  least  part  of  this 
protection  has  been  associated  with  the  glucosinolate  content  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables,  including  bok  choy. 

(Glucosinolates  are  unique  sulfur-containing  compounds  that  have  been  shown  to  have  cancer-protective  properties.)  However, 
we  have  yet  to  see  a study  exclusively  focused  on  bok  choy  in  comparison  to  its  fellow  cruciferous  vegetables,  and  we  suspect 
that  it  would  rank  on  the  lower  end  in  terms  of  its  glucosinolate-related  benefits  since  it  contains  a significantly  lower  amount 
of  these  sulfur-containing  compounds  than  other  vegetables  in  the  cruciferous  family  like  Brussels  sprouts  or  mustard  greens. 

Description 

Bok  choy  is  a cruciferous  vegetable  that  can  go  by  many  different  names.  Some  of  these  different  names  for  bok  choy  include 
white  cabbage,  mustard  cabbage,  celery  cabbage,  Chinese  white  cabbage,  Chinese  mustard,  and  white  celery  mustard.  The 
English  spelling  of  bok  choy  can  also  take  several  different  forms.  You  might  see  the  first  word  in  this  food  name  being  spelled 
as  "buk,"  "pok,"  or  "pak."  You  might  see  the  second  word  being  spelled  as  "choi."  And  sometimes  you  might  find  these  two 
words  being  combined  into  a single  word  like  "pakchoi."  Helping  to  make  sense  of  many  of  the  names  above  is  the  literal 
translation  of  "bok  choy"  in  Chinese.  The  words  "bok  choy"  come  from  "bai  cai"  where  "bai"  means  "white"  and  "cai"  means 
"cabbage." 

Many  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  commonly  eaten  in  the  U.S.  are  known  for  the  "heads"  that  they  form  in  their  more  mature 
plant  stages.  Cauliflower,  broccoli,  cabbage,  and  Brussels  sprouts  can  all  fall  into  this  category  of  "head- forming"  cruciferous 
vegetables.  By  contrast,  bok  choy  is  a non-head- forming  cruciferous  vegetable,  and  in  fact  is  sometimes  referred  to  as  "non- 
heading Chinese  cabbage."  While  the  leaves  of  the  bok  choy  plant  can  cluster  together  in  a noticeable  way,  they  do  not  form  a 
head  and  at  times  can  be  only  loosely  clustered  together. 

In  many  U.S.  grocery  stores,  you  are  most  likely  to  find  bok  choy  that  features  green  spoon-shaped  leaves  and  slightly 
flattened  white  stalks.  Varieties  of  bok  choy  that  fall  into  this  category  include  Mibuna  Early,  Canton,  and  Ching  Chang. 
However,  there  are  numerous  varieties  of  bok  choy  and  they  can  vary  in  their  stalk  color.  While  white  and  beige  stalks  are 
widely  enjoyed,  so  are  green  stalks  with  many  varying  shades,  including  Shanghai  Green  and  Green  Boy.  Also  becoming  more 
available  in  U.S.  groceries  are  varieties  of  bok  choy  with  purple  leaves.  Purple  varieties  of  bok  choy  include  Rubi  and  Purple 
Hybrid. 

Just  as  you  can  find  more  than  one  recognizable  form  of  bok  choy,  you  can  also  find  more  than  one  scientific  name  for  this 
cruciferous  vegetable.  The  most  common  name  is  Brassica  rapa  L.  subsp.  chinensis.  But  you  may  also  find  bok  choy  being 
scientifically  referred  to  as  Brassica  chinensis  (where  "chinensis"  is  used  as  a species  name  rather  than  a subspecies  name). 
Also,  you  may  occasionally  see  bok  choy  being  identified  as  Brassica  campestris  L.  subsp.  chinensis. 

History 

Bok  choy — and  other  forms  of  Chinese  cabbage — has  been  enjoyed  in  China  and  other  parts  of  Asia  for  over  1 ,500  years.  And 
bok  choy  is  by  no  means  a total  newcomer  to  North  America  either,  having  been  cultivated  on  this  continent  for  over  100 
years.  About  95  million  pounds  of  Asian  vegetables  (the  produce  trading  category  which  includes  bok  choy)  are  brought  into 
the  U.S.  each  year,  primarily  from  Mexico).  However,  another  35  million  pounds  are  produced  in  the  U.S.  The  state  of 
California  dominates  this  domestic  production,  with  smaller  amounts  being  produced  in  Arizona  and  Texas.  Some  marketplace 
statistics  on  bok  choy  combine  production  of  this  vegetable  together  with  overall  cabbage  production.  If  this  approach  is  used, 
the  numbers  go  up  dramatically,  since  more  than  2 billion  pounds  of  cabbage  are  produced  in  the  U.S.  each  year. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Look  for  bok  choy  with  firm,  bright  green  colored  leaves  (or  purple,  if  you  are  purchasing  a purple  variety)  and  moist  hardy 
stems.  Bok  choy  should  be  displayed  in  a cool  environment  since  warm  temperatures  will  cause  it  to  wilt  and  will  negatively 
affect  its  flavor.  The  leaves  should  look  fresh,  be  unwilted,  and  be  free  from  signs  of  browning,  yellowing,  and  small  holes. 
Bok  choy  is  available  throughout  the  year,  although  it  is  more  widely  available,  and  at  its  peak,  from  the  middle  of  winter 
through  the  beginning  of  spring. 

To  store,  place  bok  choy  in  a plastic  storage  bag  removing  as  much  of  the  air  from  the  bag  as  possible.  Keeping  bok  choy  cold 
will  keep  it  fresh.  In  addition,  loss  of  some  nutrients  in  bok  choy — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed 
down  through  refrigeration.  Put  the  whole  head  in  a plastic  bag  in  the  crisper  of  your  refrigerator.  Bok  choy  will  keep  for  about 
1 week  if  properly  stored. 


How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 


• Healthy  Sautebok  choy  with  snow  peas  and  mushrooms. 

• Add  a few  drops  of  tamari  soy  sauce  to  bok  choy  recipe. 

• Combine  Healthy  Sauteed  bok  choy  with  tofu  or  chicken  for  a complete  meal. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Bok  Choy 

• 15-Minute  Steamed  Halibut  with  Bok  Chov 

• 15-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Chicken  & Bok  Chov 

• 4-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Bok  Chov 

Safety 

Bok  Choy  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  bok  choy  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is  "goitrogenic."  For 
helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What  is  meant  bv  the 
term  "goitrogen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Bok  Choy,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  20 

170.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

57.80  meg 

64 

56.7 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

44.20  mg 

59 

52.0 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

361.16  meg  RAE 

40 

35.4 

excellent 

notassium 

630.70  mg 

18 

15.9 

excellent 

folate 

69.70  meg 

17 

15.4 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.28  mg 

16 

14.5 

excellent 

calcium 

158.10  mg 

16 

14.0 

excellent 

manganese 

0.24  mg 

12 

10.6 

excellent 

iron 

1.77  mg 

10 

8.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.11  mg 

8 

7.5 

very  good 

phosphoms 

49.30  mg 

7 

6.2 

very  good 

fiber 

1-65  g 

7 

5.8 

very  good 

protein 

2.65  g 

5 

4.7 

very  good 

choline 

20.57  mg 

5 

4.3 

good 

magnesium 

18.70  mg 

5 

4.1 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.73  mg 

5 

4.0 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.05  mg 

4 

3.7 

good 

copper 

0.03  mg 

3 

2.9 

good 

omeea-3  fats 

0.07  g 

3 

2.6 

good 

zinc 

0.29  mg 

3 

2.3 

good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.13  mg 

3 

2.3 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/DV >=25  % OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Bhandari  SR,  Jo  JS,  and  Lee  JG.  Comparison  of  Glucosinolate  Profiles  in  Different  Tissues  of  Nine  Brassica  Crops. 
Molecules.  2015  Aug  31;20(9):  15827-41. 

• Eriksen  JN,  Luu  AY,  Dragsted  LO,  et  al.  In  vitro  liberation  of  carotenoids  from  spinach  and  Asia  salads  after  different 
domestic  kitchen  procedures.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  203,  15  July  2016,  pages  23-27. 

• Harbayum  B,  Hubbermann  EM,  Zhu  Z et  al.  Free  and  bound  phenolic  compounds  in  leaves  of  pak  choi  (Brassica 
campestris  L.  ssp.  chinensis  var.  communis)  and  Chinese  leaf  mustard  (Brassica  juncea  Coss).  Food  Chemistry,  Volume 
110,  Issue  4,  15  October  2008,  Pages  838-846. 

• 

• Heimler  D,  Vignolini  P,  Dini  MG  et  al.  Antiradical  activity  and  polyphenol  composition  of  local  Brassicaceae  edible 
varieties.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  99,  Issue  3,  2006,  Pages  464-469. 

• Kameya  H,  Watanabe  J,  Takano-Ishikawa  Y,  et  al.  Comparison  of  scavenging  capacities  of  vegetables  by  ORAC  and 
EPR.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  145,  15  February  2014,  pages  866-873. 

• Kim  JK,  Chu  SM,  Kim  SJ,  et  al.  Variation  of  glucosinolates  in  vegetable  crops  of  Brassica  rapa  L.  ssp.  pekinensis.  Food 
Chemistry,  Volume  119,  Issue  1,  1 March  2010,  pages  423-428. 

• Lee  WY  Jr,  Emmy  Hainida  KI,  Abbe  Maleyki  MJ,  et  al.  Antioxidant  capacity  and  phenolic  content  of  selected 
commercially  available  cruciferous  vegetables.  Malays  J Nutr.  2007  Mar;13(l):71-80.  Epub  2007  Mar  15. 

• 

• Lin  LZ  and  Harnly  JM.  Phenolic  component  profiles  of  mustard  greens,  yu  choy,  and  15  other  brassica  vegetables.  J 
Agric  Food  Chem.  2010  Jun  9;58(ll):6850-7.  doi:  10.1021/jfl 004786. 

• Lu  S.  Effect  of  packaging  on  shelf-life  of  minimally  processed  Bok  Choy  (Brassica  chinensis  L.).  LWT  - Food  Science 
and  Technology,  Volume  40,  Issue  3,  April  2007,  pages  460-464. 

• 

• Reif  C,  Arrigoni  E,  Berger  F,  et  al.  Lutein  and  (3-carotene  content  of  green  leafy  Brassica  species  grown  under  different 
conditions.  LWT  - Food  Science  and  Technology,  Volume  53,  Issue  1,  September  2013,  Pages  378-381. 

• 

• Reiss  R,  Johonston  J,  Tucker  K,  et  al.  Estimation  of  cancer  risks  and  benefits  associated  with  a potential  increased 
consumption  of  fruits  and  vegetables.  Food  and  Chemical  Toxicology,  Volume  50,  Issue  12,  December  2012,  Pages 
4421-4427. 

• 

• Samec  D,  Piljac-Zegarac  J,  Bogovic  M,  et  al.  Antioxidant  potency  of  white  (Brassica  oleracea  L.  var.  capitata)  and 
Chinese  (Brassica  rapa  L.  var.  pekinensis  (Lour.))  cabbage:  The  influence  of  development  stage,  cultivar  choice  and  seed 
selection.  Scientia  Horticulturae,  Volume  128,  Issue  2,  18  March  2011,  Pages  78-83. 

• Talavera-Bianchi  M,  Chambers  E 4th,  Carey  EE,  et  al.  Effect  of  organic  production  and  fertilizer  variables  on  the 
sensory  properties  of  pac  choi  (Brassica  rapa  var.  Mei  Qing  Choi)  and  tomato  (Solanum  lycopersicum  var.  Bush 
Celebrity).  J Sci  Food  Agric.  2010  Apr  30;90(6):981-8. 

• Zamora-Ros  R,  Rothwell  JA,  Scalbert  A,  et  al.Dietary  intakes  and  food  sources  of  phenolic  acids  in  the  European 
Prospective  Investigation  into  Cancer  and  Nutrition  (EPIC)  study.Br  J Nutr.  2013  Oct;  1 1 0(8):  1500- 1 1 . doi: 

1 0. 1 01 7/S0007 1145 13000688.  Epub  2013  Mar  14. 

• Zhang  Y,  Chen  G,  Dong  T,  Pan  Y,  et  al.  Anthocyanin  accumulation  and  transcriptional  regulation  of  anthocyanin 
biosynthesis  in  purple  bok  choy  (Brassica  rapa  var.  chinensis). 

• J Agric  Food  Chem.  2014  Dec  24;62(51):  12366-76. 


Zhao  X,  Nechols  JR,  Williams  KA,  et  al.  (2009),  Comparison  of  phenolic  acids  in  organically  and  conventionally  grown 
pac  choi  (Brassica  rapa  L.  chinensis).  J.  Sci.  Food  Agric.,  89:  940 — 946. 


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Broccoli 


Broccoli  is  Our  Food  of  the  Week 

This  week  we  celebrate  broccoli  as  our  Food  of  the  Week.  Broccoli's  unique  flavor  and  incredible  nutritional  value  have  made 
it  one  of  the  most  popular  vegetables  in  the  United  States.  Its  unique  health-promoting  sulfur-containing  compounds  and 
concentration  of  vitamins  and  minerals  make  it  a great  choice  to  feature  in  your  Healthiest  Way  of  Eating. 

For  more  on  the  Food  of  the  Week 

• Cutting  Broccoli  Florets 

• Why  is  the  food  of  the  week  among  the  WHFoods?"> 

• Healthy  Eating  with  the  Seasons 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Broccoli 

• Broccoli  can  provide  you  with  some  special  cholesterol-lowering  benefits  if  you  will  cook  it  by  steaming.  The  fiber- 
related  components  in  broccoli  do  a better  job  of  binding  together  with  bile  acids  in  your  digestive  tract  when  they've 
been  steamed.  When  this  binding  process  takes  place,  it's  easier  for  bile  acids  to  be  excreted,  and  the  result  is  a lowering 
of  your  cholesterol  levels.  Raw  broccoli  still  has  cholesterol-lowering  ability — just  not  as  much. 

• Broccoli  has  a strong,  positive  impact  on  our  body's  detoxification  system,  and  researchers  have  recently  identified  one 
of  the  key  reasons  for  this  detox  benefit.  Glucoraphanin,  gluconasturtiian,  and  glucobrassicin  are  3 glucosinolate 
phytonutrients  found  in  a special  combination  in  broccoli.  This  dynamic  trio  is  able  to  support  all  steps  in  body's  detox 
process,  including  activation,  neutralization,  and  elimination  of  unwanted  contaminants.  Isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  are  the 
detox-regulating  molecules  made  from  broccoli's  glucosinolates,  and  they  help  control  the  detox  process  at  a genetic 
level. 

• Broccoli  may  help  us  solve  our  vitamin  D deficiency  epidemic.  When  large  supplemental  doses  of  vitamin  D are  needed 
to  offset  deficiency,  ample  supplies  of  vitamin  K and  vitamin  A help  keep  our  vitamin  D metabolism  in  balance. 

Broccoli  has  an  unusually  strong  combination  of  both  vitamin  A (in  the  form  of  beta-carotene)  and  vitamin  K.  For 
people  faced  with  the  need  to  rebuild  vitamin  D stores  through  vitamin  D supplements,  broccoli  may  be  an  ideal  food  to 
include  in  the  diet. 

• Broccoli  is  a particularly  rich  source  of  a flavonoid  called  kaempferol.  Recent  research  has  shown  the  ability  of 
kaempferol  to  lessen  the  impact  of  allergy-related  substances  on  our  body.  This  kaempferol  connection  helps  to  explain 
the  unique  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  broccoli,  and  it  should  also  open  the  door  to  future  research  on  the  benefits  of 
broccoli  for  a hypoallergenic  diet. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

Studies  have  shown  that  even  kids  like  broccoli  and  one  way  to  ensure  that  they  enjoy  it  is  to  cook  it  properly  by  using  our 
Healthy  Steaming  method.  Overcooked  broccoli  becomes  soft  and  mushy,  an  indication  that  it  has  lost  both  nutrients  and 
flavor.  Begin  by  cutting  broccoli  florets  into  quarters  and  let  sit  for  several  minutes  before  cooking  to  enhance  its  health- 
promoting  benefits.  Steam  for  5 minutes.  See  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Broccoli  below. 

You'll  want  to  include  broccoli  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  we  recommend  3/4  cup  of  cruciferous 
vegetables  on  a daily  basis.  This  amount  is  equivalent  to  approximately  5 cups  per  week.  A more  optimal  intake  amount  would 
be  1-1/2  cups  per  day,  or  about  10  cups  per  week.  You  can  use  our  Veggie  Advisor  for  help  in  figuring  out  your  best 
cruciferous  vegetable  options. 


Broccoli,  chopped,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(156.00  grams) 

Calories:  55 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

245% 

vitamin  C 

135% 

chromium 

53% 

Health  Benefits 

It's  no  coincidence  that  more  than  300  research  studies  on  broccoli  have  converged  in  one  unique  area  of  health  science — the 
development  of  cancer — and  its  relationship  to  three  metabolic  problems  in  the  body.  Those  three  problems  are  (1)  chronic 
inflammation  (2)  oxidative  stress,  and  (3)  inadequate  detoxification.  While  these  types  of  problems  have  yet  to  become  part  of 
the  public  health  spotlight,  they  are  essential  to  understanding  broccoli's  unique  health  benefits.  Over  the  past  5 years,  research 
has  made  it  clear  that  our  risk  of  cancer  in  several  different  organ  systems  is  related  to  the  combination  of  these  three  problems. 

The  Cancer/Inflammation/Oxidative  Stress/Detox  Connection 

Exposure  to  potentially  toxic  substances  in  our  food  and  water,  or  in  the  air  we  breathe  both  indoors  and  outdoors,  exposure  to 
allergy-triggering  substances,  poor  general  health,  dietary  deficiencies,  use  of  prescription  and  over-the-counter  medications, 
and  other  lifestyle  practices  can  result  in  a level  of  danger  to  our  bodies  that  prompts  our  inflammatory  system  to  work  in 
overdrive  on  a 24/7  basis.  Researchers  often  refer  to  this  phenomenon  as  "chronic  inflammation."  Often  contributing  to  this 
level  of  danger  is  a weakened  detox  ability  in  our  body.  If  our  liver,  skin,  and  other  organ  systems  cannot  keep  up  with  and 
detoxify  the  number  of  potential  toxins  that  we  encounter,  too  many  potential  toxins  remain  at  large  throughout  our  body.  Once 
again,  the  result  is  a level  of  risk  that  prompts  chronic  inflammation. 

On  a more  temporary,  short-term  basis,  inflammation  is  part  of  good  health.  Whether  physical  or  chemical  in  nature,  whenever 
our  body  detects  a wound,  it  typically  responds  by  trying  to  heal  with  an  inflammatory  response.  That  process  is  healthy,  so 
long  as  it  is  not  constant  and  uninterrupted.  But  unlike  the  helpful  inflammation  that  takes  place  we  get  a simple  cut  or  bruise, 
chronic  inflammation — when  it  becomes  a standard  feature  of  our  metabolism — is  incompatible  with  good  health.  When  our 
bodies  are  overwhelmed  day  in  and  day  out  with  chronic  inflammation,  many  other  metabolic  balances  can  get  thrown  out  of 
kilter,  including  the  balance  in  our  oxygen  metabolism.  An  unwanted  imbalance  starts  to  occur  in  which  too  many  overly 
reactive,  oxygen-containing  molecules  are  formed.  This  condition  is  called  oxidative  stress.  The  increased  presence  of  these 
overly  reactive  molecules  can  do  damage  to  many  parts  of  our  cells,  including  their  genetic  material  (and  especially  their 
deoxyribonucleic  acid,  or  DNA).  Over  time,  the  constant  and  cumulative  DNA  damage  inside  our  cells  can  pose  a major  risk 
factor  for  conversion  of  healthy  cells  into  cancerous  ones. 

It's  equally  possible  for  this  sequence  of  events  to  start  not  with  chronic,  excessive  inflammation,  but  with  chronic  oxidative 
stress.  Over  time,  when  overly  reactive  oxygen-containing  molecules  cause  damage  to  DNA  and  other  cell  structures,  our  body 
reads  this  situation  as  being  highly  dangerous  and  it  initiates  an  inflammatory  response  to  try  and  reduce  the  threat  posed  by 
the  oxidative  stress.  In  either  case,  we  end  up  with  a combination  of  inadequate  detoxification  of  toxic  substances,  chronic 
inflammation  and  oxidative  stress  that  puts  us  at  greater  risk  for  developing  cancer. 

In  a way  that  might  be  unique  among  foods,  the  nutrients  found  in  broccoli  are  able  to  change  this  set  of  connections  between 
inflammation,  oxidative  stress,  detox  and  cancer.  In  fact,  it  would  be  fair  to  describe  broccoli  as  containing  anti-inflammatory 
nutrients,  antioxidant  nutrients,  detox-support  nutrients,  and  anti-cancer  nutrients  as  well! 


Broccoli's  Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 


When  threatened  with  dangerous  levels  of  potential  toxins,  or  dangerous  numbers  of  overly-reactive,  oxygen-containing 
molecules,  signals  are  sent  within  our  body  to  our  inflammatory  system,  directing  it  to  "kick  in"  and  help  protect  our  body 
from  potential  damage.  One  key  signaling  device  is  a molecule  called  Nf-kappaB.  When  faced  with  the  type  of  dangers 
described  above,  the  NF-kappaB  signaling  system  is  used  to  "rev  up"  our  inflammatory  response  and  increase  production  of 
inflammatory  components  (for  example,  IL-6,  IL-lbeta,  TNF-alpha,  iNOS  and  COX-2).  This  process  works  beautifully  in 
temporary,  short-term  circumstances  when  healing  from  injury  is  required.  When  it  continues  indefinitely  at  a constant  pace, 
however,  it  can  put  us  at  risk  for  serious  health  problems,  including  the  development  of  cancer. 

Research  studies  have  made  it  clear  that  the  NF-kappaB  signaling  system  that  is  used  to  "rev  up"  our  inflammatory  response 
can  be  significantly  suppressed  by  isothiocyanates  (ITCs).  ITCs — the  compounds  made  from  glucosinolates  found  in  broccoli 
and  other  cruciferous  vegetables — actually  help  to  shut  down  the  genetic  machinery  used  to  produce  NF-kappaB  and  other 
components  of  the  inflammatory  system.  These  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  ITCs  have  been  demonstrated  in  the  laboratory, 
and  with  consumption  of  the  ITCs  themselves.  While  they  have  yet  to  be  demonstrated  on  consumption  of  broccoli  in  an 
everyday  diet,  we  fully  expect  future  research  to  show  anti-inflammatory  benefits  from  the  routine  consumption  of  broccoli 
(and  its  glucosinolates),  not  just  from  consumption  of  ITCs. 

Lack  of  omega-3  fat  is  dietary  problem  that  can  cause  over-activation  of  the  inflammatory  system.  The  reason  is  simple:  many 
key  anti-inflammatory  messaging  molecules  (like  PGH3,  TXA3,  PG13,  and  LTE5)  are  made  from  omega-3  fats.  We  are  not 
accustomed  to  thinking  about  non- fatty  vegetables  as  sources  of  omega-3  fats,  but  we  need  to  change  our  thinking  in  this  area. 
While  it  is  true  that  there  are  limited  amounts  of  omega-3s  in  vegetables  like  broccoli,  it  is  equally  true  that  their  levels  of 
omega-3s  can  still  play  an  important  role  in  balancing  our  inflammatory  system  activity.  In  100  calories'  worth  of  broccoli 
(about  2 cups)  there  are  approximately  400  milligrams  of  omega-3s  (in  the  form  of  alpha-linolenic  acid,  or  ALA).  That  amount 
of  ALA  falls  into  the  same  general  ballpark  as  the  amount  provided  by  one  soft  gel  capsule  of  flax  oil.  While  we  would  not 
want  to  depend  on  broccoli  as  our  sole  source  of  dietary  omega-3s,  we  still  get  important  anti-inflammatory  benefits  from  the 
omega-3s  it  provides. 

As  mentioned  earlier  in  this  section,  chronic  inflammation  can  sometimes  get  triggered  by  overexposure  to  allergy-related 
substances.  In  this  context,  broccoli  has  yet  another  anti-inflammatory  trick  up  its  sleeve,  because  it  is  a rich  source  of  one 
particular  phytonutrient  (a  flavonol)  called  kaempferol.  Especially  inside  of  our  digestive  tract,  kaempferol  has  the  ability  to 
lessen  the  impact  of  allergy-related  substances  (by  lowering  the  immune  system's  production  of  IgE-antibodies).  By  lessening 
the  impact  of  allergy-related  substances,  the  kaempferol  in  broccoli  can  help  lower  our  risk  of  chronic  inflammation. 

Broccoli's  Antioxidant  Benefits 

Amongst  all  of  the  commonly  consumed  cruciferous  vegetables,  broccoli  stands  out  as  the  most  concentrated  source  of  a 
premiere  antioxidant  nutrient — vitamin  C.  This  central  antioxidant  vitamin  can  provide  longer-term  support  of  oxygen 
metabolism  in  the  body  if  it  is  accompanied  by  flavonoids  that  allow  it  to  recycle.  Broccoli  provides  many  such  flavonoids  in 
significant  amounts,  including  the  flavonoids  kaempferol  and  quercitin.  Also  concentrated  in  broccoli  are  the  carotenoids 
lutein,  zeaxanthin,  and  beta-carotene.  All  three  of  these  carotenoids  function  as  key  antioxidants.  In  the  case  of  lutein  and  beta- 
carotene,  broccoli  has  been  shown  not  only  to  provide  significant  amounts  of  these  antioxidants  but  to  significantly  increase 
their  blood  levels  when  consumed  in  the  amount  of  three  cups.  Other  antioxidants  provided  by  broccoli  in  beneficial  amounts 
include  vitamin  E and  the  minerals  manganese  and  zinc. 

Considered  as  a group,  the  vitamins,  minerals,  flavonoids,  and  carotenoids  contained  in  broccoli  work  to  lower  risk  of 
oxidative  stress  in  the  body.  The  ability  of  these  nutrients  to  support  oxygen  metabolism  and  avoid  excess  formation  of  overly 
reactive,  oxygen-containing  molecules  makes  them  equally  helpful  in  lowering  risk  of  chronic  inflammation  and  risk  of  cancer. 
If  cancer  development  is  compared  to  a 3-legged  stool,  the  antioxidant  benefits  of  broccoli  can  be  viewed  as  weakening  one 
leg  of  the  stool,  namely  the  leg  called  "oxidative  stress."  We've  already  seen  how  the  glucosinolates  and  omega-3  fats  in 
broccoli  can  be  viewed  as  helping  to  weaken  a second  leg  of  the  stool  (chronic  inflammation).  In  the  next  section,  we'll  look  at 
a third  leg  of  the  stool  (inadequate  detoxification)  and  see  how  the  nutrients  found  in  broccoli  can  serve  to  weaken  this  leg  as 
well. 

Broccoli  Can  Enhance  Detoxification 

Most  toxins  that  pose  a risk  to  our  cells  must  be  detoxified  in  our  body  by  a 2-step  process.  What's  remarkable  about  broccoli 
is  its  ability  to  alter  activity  in  both  of  these  two  detox  steps.  Isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  made  from  the  glucosinolates  in  broccoli 
are  well-documented  modifiers  of  the  first  step  in  detoxification  (called  Phase  I).  In  fact,  some  ITCs  like  sulforaphane  can 
actually  help  shut  down  the  genetic  machinery  that  produces  certain  Phase  I enzymes.  ITCs  are  equally  capable  of  altering  the 


activity  of  enzymes  involved  in  the  second  step  of  detoxification  (called  Phase  II).  From  research  in  the  field  of  genetics,  we 
know  that  ITCs  can  help  bridge  gaps  in  Phase  11  activity  when  it  is  insufficient.  Taken  in  combination,  the  impact  of  ITCs  on 
Phase  I and  11  detox  events  is  unique — and  equally  unique  is  the  presence  of  glucosinolate  compounds  in  broccoli  that  can  be 
used  to  make  ITCs.  Glucosinolates  like  glucoraphanin,  gluconasturtiian,  and  glucobrassicin  are  simply  not  found  in  other  foods 
in  the  same  combination  and  concentration  that  is  offered  by  broccoli.  By  helping  to  promote  as  well  as  regulate  detox  activity 
in  our  cells,  the  ITCs  made  from  broccoli  can  help  prevent  insufficient  detoxification  of  dangerous  substances  that  threaten  our 
cells. 

Broccoli  and  Cancer  Prevention 

The  unique  combination  of  antioxidant,  anti-inflammatory,  and  pro-detoxification  components  in  broccoli  make  it  a unique 
food  in  terms  of  cancer  prevention.  Connections  between  cancer  development  and  oxidative  stress,  chronic  inflammation,  and 
inadequate  detoxification  are  so  well-documented  in  the  research  that  any  food  improving  all  three  of  these  metabolic 
problems  would  be  highly  likely  to  lower  our  risk  of  cancer.  In  the  case  of  broccoli,  the  research  is  strongest  in  showing 
decreased  risk  of  prostate  cancer,  colon  cancer,  breast  cancer,  bladder  cancer,  and  ovarian  cancer.  We  expect  that  risk  of  other 
cancer  types  will  also  eventually  be  shown  to  undergo  reduction  from  regular  consumption  of  broccoli. 

How  Much  Broccoli  Is  Needed  for  Cancer  Prevention? 

Recent  studies  have  also  provided  us  with  a much  better  idea  about  the  amount  of  broccoli  that  we  need  to  lower  our  cancer 
risk.  At  the  lower  end  of  the  spectrum,  it  looks  like  an  average  of  1/2  cup  of  broccoli  per  day — only  22  calories'  worth  of 
broccoli! — is  enough  to  provide  some  measurable  benefits.  Few  people  have  broccoli  on  a daily  basis.  But  a 2-cup  serving 
twice  a week  would  still  meet  this  minimum  average  amount.  It's  important  to  remember  how  little  this  amount  actually  in 
within  the  context  of  one  week's  food.  A person  eating  2,000  calories  per  day  would  be  consuming  14,000  calories  per  week.  A 
2-cup  serving  of  broccoli  twice  a week  would  provide  about  178  calories — only  1%  of  the  total  weekly  calories!  At  the  higher 
end  of  the  spectrum,  studies  show  that  more  broccoli  might  be  needed  to  accomplish  other  cancer-preventing  tasks.  For 
example,  one  study  showed  significantly  higher  urinary  excretion  of  potential  carcinogens  from  well-done,  grilled  meats  given 
daily  consumption  of  broccoli  in  the  range  of  9 ounces  (250  grams)  per  day.  That  gram  amount  corresponds  to  approximately 
1.6  cups  of  broccoli  on  a daily  basis.  We've  also  seen  a study  showing  that  "generous"  amounts  of  broccoli  can  help  optimize 
levels  of  antioxidants  in  the  blood,  especially  beta-carotene  and  lutein.  (Optimal  antioxidant  levels  can  help  lower  the  risk  of 
oxidative  stress  in  healthy  cells,  which  also  helps  lower  their  risk  of  becoming  cancerous.)  In  this  study,  the  term  "generous" 
was  used  to  describe  consumption  of  broccoli  in  the  amount  of  3 cups  daily.  Once  again,  that  amount  would  not  be  ridiculously 
high  in  terms  of  calories — 3 cups  would  provide  about  132  calories,  or  6-7%  of  a 2,000-calorie  diet.  But  it  might  be  a greater 
amount  that  many  people  would  want  to  consume  on  a regular  basis. 

For  us,  the  bottom  line  here  is  not  to  treat  broccoli  like  garnish.  In  recipes  like  our  Asian-Flavored  Broccoli  with  Tofu  or  5- 
Minute  Broccoli  with  Feta  Cheese  and  Kalamata  Olives  recipes,  we  use  1 pound  of  broccoli  to  provide  two  servings.  That's 
approximately  1.5  cups  of  broccoli  per  serving.  There  is  no  reason  to  shy  away  from  2-3  cup  servings  of  broccoli  when 
enjoying  this  cruciferous  vegetable,  especially  if  you  want  to  optimize  its  cancer-preventing  benefits.  But  make  sure  you're  not 
simply  "decorating"  your  plate  with  single  broccoli  stalk  and  floret. 

Broccoli  and  Digestive  Support 

The  digestive  support  provided  by  broccoli  falls  into  two  basic  categories:  fiber  support,  and  ITC  (isothiocyanate)  support.  At 
approximately  1 gram  of  dietary  fiber  for  every  1 0 calories,  you  don't  have  to  eat  much  broccoli  to  get  a large  amount  of  your 
daily  requirement!  For  100  calories — only  5%  of  a 2,000-calorie  diet — you  get  about  10  grams  of  fiber,  or  40%  of  the  Daily 
Value  (DV).  And,  250  calories  of  broccoli  (about  12%  of  a 2,000-calorie  diet)  will  give  you  the  full  daily  requirement  for  this 
important  nutrient!  Few  components  of  food  support  our  digestive  system  as  well  as  fiber.  The  speed  that  food  travels  through 
us,  the  consistency  of  food  as  it  moves  through  our  intestine,  and  bacterial  populations  in  our  intestine  are  all  supported  as  well 
as  regulated  by  dietary  fiber. 

Alongside  of  broccoli's  dietary  fibers  are  its  glucosinolates.  These  phytonutrients  are  converted  by  our  bodies  into 
isothiocyanates  (ITCs).  ITCs — and  particularly  sulforaphane — help  protect  the  health  of  our  stomach  lining  by  helping  prevent 
bacterial  overgrowth  of  Helicobacter  pylori  or  too  much  clinging  by  this  bacterium  to  our  stomach  wall.  Broccoli  sprouts 
appear  to  have  especially  strong  stomach  support  properties  in  this  regard. 


Broccoli  and  Cardiovascular  Support 


Although  research  in  this  area  is  still  in  the  early  stages,  anti-inflammatory  substances  found  in  cruciferous  vegetables  are 
becoming  the  topic  of  increasing  interest  with  respect  to  heart  disease.  One  particular  focus  here  involves  the  anti- 
inflammatory properties  of  sulforaphane,  one  of  the  isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  derived  from  the  glucoraphanin  in  broccoli.  In 
some  individuals  susceptible  to  high  blood  sugar,  sulforaphane  may  be  able  to  prevent  (or  even  reverse)  some  of  the  damage  to 
blood  vessel  linings  that  can  be  cause  by  chronic  blood  sugar  problems.  Decreased  risk  of  heart  attacks  and  strokes  may  also 
eventually  be  linked  in  a statistically  significant  way  to  intake  of  broccoli  and  its  glucoraphanin. 

A second  area  you  can  count  on  broccoli  for  cardiovascular  support  involves  its  cholesterol-lowering  ability.  Our  liver  uses 
cholesterol  as  a basic  building  block  to  product  bile  acids.  Bile  acids  are  specialized  molecules  that  aid  in  the  digestion  and 
absorption  of  fat  through  a process  called  emulsification.  These  molecules  are  typically  stored  in  fluid  form  in  our  gall  bladder, 
and  when  we  eat  a fat-containing  meal,  they  get  released  into  the  intestine  where  they  help  ready  the  fat  for  interaction  with 
enzymes  and  eventual  absorption  up  into  the  body.  When  we  eat  broccoli,  fiber-related  nutrients  in  this  cruciferous  vegetable 
bind  together  with  some  of  the  bile  acids  in  the  intestine  in  such  a way  that  they  simply  stay  inside  the  intestine  and  pass  out  of 
our  body  in  a bowel  movement,  rather  than  getting  absorbed  along  with  the  fat  they  have  emulsified.  When  this  happens,  our 
liver  needs  to  replace  the  lost  bile  acids  by  drawing  upon  our  existing  supply  of  cholesterol,  and  as  a result,  our  cholesterol 
level  drops  down.  Broccoli  provides  us  with  this  cholesterol-lowering  benefit  whether  it  is  raw  or  cooked.  However,  a recent 
study  has  shown  that  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  raw  broccoli  improves  significantly  when  it  is  steamed.  In  fact,  when 
the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  steamed  broccoli  was  compared  with  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  the  prescription 
drug  cholestyramine  (a  medication  that  is  taken  for  the  purpose  of  lowering  cholesterol),  broccoli  bound  33%  as  many  bile 
acids  (based  on  a standard  of  comparison  involving  total  dietary  fiber). 

The  B-complex  vitamins  in  broccoli  can  also  make  a major  contribution  to  our  cardiovascular  health.  Especially  with  respect 
to  excessive  formation  of  homocysteine — an  event  which  raises  our  risk  of  atherosclerosis,  stroke,  and  heart  attack — B- 
complex  vitamin  deficiency  intake  can  pose  a major  risk.  Three  B vitamins  especially  important  for  lowering  our  risk  of 
hyperhomocysteinemia  (excessive  formation  of  homocysteine)  are  vitamin  B6,  vitamin  B12,  and  folate.  By  making  an 
important  contribution  to  our  B6  and  folate  intake,  broccoli  can  help  us  lower  our  risk  of  excessive  homocysteine  formation 
and  cardiovascular  problems  that  are  related  to  excess  homocysteine. 

Other  Health  Benefits  Provided  by  Broccoli 

Three  other  areas  of  health  benefits  are  important  to  mention  when  considering  broccoli  and  its  unique  combination  of 
nutrients.  The  first  area  is  eye  health.  Two  carotenoids  found  in  significant  concentrations  in  broccoli — lutein  and  zeaxanthin — 
play  an  especially  important  role  in  the  health  of  the  eye.  In  fact,  no  tissue  in  the  body  is  more  concentrated  with  lutein  than  the 
area  in  the  outer  portion  of  the  retina  (called  the  peripheral  retina).  Similarly,  in  the  macula  near  the  central  portion  of  the 
retina,  zeaxanthin  is  uniquely  concentrated.  Risk  of  problems  involving  the  macula  of  the  eye  (for  example,  macular 
degeneration)  and  problems  involving  the  lens  area  of  the  eye  (for  example,  cataracts)  have  both  been  show  to  lessen  with 
intake  of  foods  (including  broccoli)  that  provide  significant  amounts  of  the  lutein  and  zeaxanthin  carotenonids. 

A second  area  is  skin  support,  including  support  of  sun-damaged  skin.  Here  it  is  the  glucoraphanin  found  in  broccoli — 
converted  into  sulforaphane  by  the  body — that  has  received  the  most  research  attention.  Since  skin  cells  can  carry  out  the 
process  of  detoxification,  it  may  be  detox-related  benefits  of  sulforaphane  that  are  especially  important  in  helping  to  counteract 
sun  damage. 

A third  area  of  increasing  research  interest  involves  the  metabolism  of  vitamin  D.  Broccoli  is  not  a source  of  this  vitamin,  but  it 
is  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  K and  also  of  vitamin  A (in  one  of  its  precursor  forms,  beta-carotene).  Many  individuals  have 
large  vitamin  D deficiencies  that  cannot  be  remedied  through  diet  alone,  and  these  deficiencies  require  sizable  amounts  of 
vitamin  D to  be  provided  through  dietary  supplementation.  When  large  supplemental  doses  of  vitamin  D are  needed  to  offset 
deficiency,  ample  supplies  of  vitamin  K and  vitamin  A appear  to  help  keep  our  vitamin  D metabolism  in  the  proper  balance. 
Assuring  adequate  intake  of  vitamins  K and  A alongside  of  vitamin  D supplementation  may  turn  out  to  be  important  in 
achieving  optimal  vitamin  D supplementation  results  and  avoiding  potential  problems  related  to  supplementation.  Broccoli 
may  turn  out  to  play  a particularly  helpful  role  in  balancing  this  set  of  events  by  providing  its  unusually  strong  combination  of 
both  vitamin  A and  vitamin  K. 

Description 

Broccoli  is  a member  of  the  cabbage  family,  and  is  closely  related  to  cauliflower.  Its  cultivation  originated  in  Italy.  Broccolo, 
its  Italian  name,  means  "cabbage  sprout."  Broccoli's  name  is  derived  from  the  Latin  word  brachium,  which  means  branch  or 
arm,  a reflection  of  its  tree-like  shape  that  features  a compact  head  of  florets  attached  by  small  stems  to  a larger  stalk.  Because 
of  its  different  components,  this  vegetable  provides  a complex  of  tastes  and  textures,  ranging  from  soft  and  flowery  (the 
florets)  to  fibrous  and  crunchy  (the  stem  and  stalk).  Its  color  can  range  from  deep  sage  to  dark  green  to  purplish-green, 


depending  upon  the  variety.  One  of  the  most  popular  types  of  broccoli  sold  in  North  America  is  known  as  Italian  green,  or 
Calabrese,  named  after  the  Italian  province  of  Calabria  where  it  first  grew. 

Other  vegetables  related  to  broccoli  are  broccolini,  a mix  between  broccoli  and  gai-lin  (Chinese  broccoli),  and  broccoflower,  a 
cross  between  broccoli  and  cauliflower.  Broccoli  sprouts  have  also  recently  become  popular  as  a result  of  research  uncovering 
their  high  concentration  of  the  anti-cancer  phytonutrient,  sulforaphane. 

History 

Broccoli  has  its  roots  in  Italy.  In  ancient  Roman  times,  it  was  developed  from  wild  cabbage,  a plant  that  more  resembles 
collards  than  broccoli.  It  spread  through  out  the  Near  East  where  it  was  appreciated  for  its  edible  flower  heads  and  was 
subsequently  brought  back  to  Italy  where  it  was  further  cultivated.  Broccoli  was  introduced  to  the  United  States  in  colonial 
times,  popularized  by  Italian  immigrants  who  brought  this  prized  vegetable  with  them  to  the  New  World. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  broccoli  with  floret  clusters  that  are  compact  and  not  bruised.  They  should  be  uniformly  colored,  either  dark  green, 
sage  or  purple-green,  depending  upon  variety,  and  with  no  yellowing.  In  addition,  they  should  not  have  any  yellow  flowers 
blossoming  through,  as  this  is  a sign  of  over  maturity.  The  stalk  and  stems  should  be  firm  with  no  slimy  spots  appearing  either 
there  or  on  the  florets.  If  leaves  are  attached,  they  should  be  vibrant  in  color  and  not  wilted. 

Place  broccoli  in  a plastic  bag,  removing  as  much  of  the  air  from  the  bag  as  possible.  Store  in  the  refrigerator  where  it  will 
keep  for  1 0 days.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  broccoli — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through 
refrigeration. 

Do  not  wash  broccoli  before  storing  because  exposure  to  water  encourages  spoilage.  Partial  heads  of  broccoli  should  be  placed 
in  a well-sealed  container  or  plastic  bag  and  refrigerated.  Since  the  vitamin  C content  starts  to  quickly  degrade  once  broccoli 
has  been  cut,  it  is  best  to  use  it  within  a couple  of  days.  Broccoli  that  has  been  blanched  and  then  frozen  can  stay  up  to  a year. 
Leftover  cooked  broccoli  should  be  placed  in  tightly  covered  container  and  stored  in  the  refrigerator  where  it  will  keep  for  a 
few  days. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Toss  pasta  with  olive  oil,  pine  nuts  and  steamed  broccoli  florets.  Add  salt  and  pepper  to  taste. 

• Puree  cooked  broccoli  and  cauliflower,  then  combine  with  seasonings  of  your  choice  to  make  a simple,  yet  delicious, 
soup. 

• Add  broccoli  florets  and  chopped  stalks  to  omelets. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Broccoli 

• Asian-Flavored  Broccoli  with  Tofu 

• Miso  Stir-Fry 

• Sweet  N'  Sour  Cod  with  Cabbage  and  Broccoli 

Safety 

Broccoli  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  broccoli  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is  "goitrogenic."  For 
helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What  is  meant  bv  the 
term  "goitrogen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 


Nutritional  Profile 


Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 


The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Broccoli,  chopped,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  55 

156.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

220.12  meg 

245 

80.6 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

101.24  mg 

135 

44.5 

excellent 

chromium 

18.55  meg 

53 

17.5 

excellent 

folate 

168.48  meg 

42 

13.9 

excellent 

fiber 

5.15  g 

21 

6.8 

very  good 

oantothenic  acid 

0.96  mg 

19 

6.3 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.31  mg 

18 

6.0 

very  good 

vitamin  E 

2.26  mg  (ATE) 

15 

5.0 

very  good 

maneanese 

0.30  mg 

15 

4.9 

very  good 

phosphorus 

104.52  mg 

15 

4.9 

very  good 

choline 

62.56  mg 

15 

4.9 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.19  mg 

15 

4.8 

very  good 

vitamin  A 

120.74  meg  RAE 

13 

4.4 

very  good 

potassium 

457.08  mg 

13 

4.3 

very  good 

coDDer 

0.10  mg 

11 

3.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.10  mg 

8 

2.7 

good 

maunesium 

32.76  mg 

8 

2.7 

good 

omeua-3  fats 

0.19  g 

8 

2.6 

good 

nrotein 

3.71  g 

7 

2.4 

good 

zinc 

0.70  mg 

6 

2.1 

good 

calcium 

62.40  mg 

6 

2.1 

good 

iron 

1.05  mg 

6 

1.9 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.86  mg 

5 

1.8 

good 

selenium 

2.50  meg 

5 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

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• Konsue  N,  Ioannides  C.  Modulation  of  carcinogen-metabolising  cytochromes  P450  in  human  liver  by  the 
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• Lakhan  SE,  Kirchgessner  A,  Hofer  M.  Inflammatory  mechanisms  in  ischemic  stroke:  therapeutic  approaches.  Journal  of 
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• Li  F,  Hullar  MAJ,  Schwarz  Y,  et  al.  Human  Gut  Bacterial  Communities  Are  Altered  by  Addition  of  Cruciferous 
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• Lin  J,  Kamat  A,  Gu  J,  et  al.  Dietary  intake  of  vegetables  and  fruits  and  the  modification  effects  of  GSTM1  and  NAT2 
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Brussels  sprouts 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Brussels  Sprouts 

• Brussels  sprouts  can  provide  you  with  some  special  cholesterol-lowering  benefits  if  you  will  use  a steaming  method 
when  cooking  them.  The  fiber-related  components  in  Brussels  sprouts  do  a better  job  of  binding  together  with  bile  acids 
in  your  digestive  tract  when  they've  been  steamed.  When  this  binding  process  takes  place,  it's  easier  for  bile  acids  to  be 
excreted,  and  the  result  is  a lowering  of  your  cholesterol  levels.  Raw  Brussels  sprouts  still  have  cholesterol-lowering 
ability  — just  not  as  much  as  steamed  Brussels  sprouts. 

• Brussels  sprouts  may  have  unique  health  benefits  in  the  area  of  DNA  protection.  A recent  study  has  shown  improved 
stability  of  DNA  inside  of  our  white  blood  cells  after  daily  consumption  of  Brussels  sprouts  in  the  amount  of  1.25  cups. 
Interestingly,  it's  the  ability  of  certain  compounds  in  Brussels  sprouts  to  block  the  activity  of  sulphotransferase  enzymes 
that  researchers  believe  to  be  responsible  for  these  DNA-protective  benefits. 

• For  total  glucosinolate  content,  Brussels  sprouts  are  now  known  to  top  the  list  of  commonly  eaten  cruciferous 
vegetables.  Their  total  glucosinolate  content  has  been  shown  to  be  greater  than  the  amount  found  in  mustard  greens, 
turnip  greens,  cabbage,  kale,  cauliflower,  or  broccoli.  In  Germany,  Brussels  sprouts  account  for  more  glucosinolate 
intake  than  any  other  food  except  broccoli.  Glucosinolates  are  important  phytonutrients  for  our  health  because  they  are 
the  chemical  starting  points  for  a variety  of  cancer-protective  substances.  All  cruciferous  vegetables  contain 
glucosinolates  and  have  great  health  benefits  for  this  reason.  But  it's  recent  research  that's  made  us  realize  how  especially 
valuable  Brussels  sprouts  are  in  this  regard. 

• The  cancer  protection  we  get  from  Brussels  sprouts  is  largely  related  to  four  specific  glucosinolates  found  in  this 
cruciferous  vegetable:  glucoraphanin,  glucobrassicin,  sinigrin,  and  gluconasturtiian.  Research  has  shown  that  Brussels 
sprouts  offer  these  cancer-preventive  components  in  special  combination. 

• Brussels  sprouts  have  been  used  to  determine  the  potential  impact  of  cruciferous  vegetables  on  thyroid  function.  In  a 
recent  study,  5 ounces  of  Brussels  sprouts  were  consumed  on  a daily  basis  for  4 consecutive  weeks  by  a small  group  of 
healthy  adults  and  not  found  to  have  an  unwanted  impact  on  their  thyroid  function.  Although  follow-up  studies  are 
needed,  this  study  puts  at  least  one  large  stamp  of  approval  on  Brussels  sprouts  as  a food  that  can  provide  fantastic  health 
benefits  without  putting  the  thyroid  gland  at  risk. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  Brussels  sprouts  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  we  recommend  3/4  cup  of  cruciferous 
vegetables  on  a daily  basis.  This  amount  is  equivalent  to  approximately  5 cups  per  week.  A more  optimal  intake  amount  would 
be  1-1/2  cups  per  day,  or  about  10  cups  per  week.  You  can  use  our  Veggie  Advisor  for  help  in  figuring  out  your  best 
cruciferous  vegetable  options. 

It  is  very  important  not  to  overcook  Brussels  sprouts.  Not  only  do  they  lose  their  nutritional  value  and  taste  but  they  will  begin 
to  emit  the  unpleasant  sulfur  smell  associated  with  overcooked  cruciferous  vegetables.  To  help  Brussels  sprouts  cook  more 
quickly  and  evenly  cut  each  sprout  into  quarters.  Let  them  sit  for  at  least  5 minutes  to  bring  out  the  health-promoting  qualities 
and  then  steam  them  for  5 minutes.  Serve  with  our  Honey  Mustard  Dressing  to  add  extra  tang  and  flavor  to  Brussels  sprouts. 


omega-3  fats  11% 

iron  10% 

vitamin  B2  9% 

pantothenic  acid  8% 

magnesium  8% 

protein  8% 

vitamin  A 7% 

vitamin  B3  6% 

calcium  6% 

zinc  5% 


Health  Benefits 

You'll  find  nearly  100  studies  in  PubMed  (the  health  research  database  at  the  National  Library  of  Medicine  in  Washington, 
D.C.)  that  are  focused  on  Brussels  sprouts,  and  over  half  of  those  studies  involve  the  health  benefits  of  this  cruciferous 
vegetable  in  relationship  to  cancer.  This  connection  between  Brussels  sprouts  and  cancer  prevention  should  not  be  surprising 
since  Brussels  sprouts  provide  special  nutrient  support  for  three  body  systems  that  are  closely  connected  with  cancer 
development  as  well  as  cancer  prevention.  These  three  systems  are  (1)  the  body's  detox  system,  (2)  its  antioxidant  system,  and 
(3)  its  inflammatory/anti-inflammatory  system.  Chronic  imbalances  in  any  of  these  three  systems  can  increase  risk  of  cancer, 
and  when  imbalances  in  all  three  systems  occur  simultaneously,  the  risk  of  cancer  increases  significantly.  Among  all  types  of 
cancer,  prevention  of  the  following  cancer  types  is  most  closely  associated  with  intake  of  Brussels  sprouts:  bladder  cancer, 
breast  cancer,  colon  cancer,  lung  cancer,  prostate  cancer,  and  ovarian  cancer. 

Brussels  Sprouts  and  Detox  Support 

The  detox  support  provided  by  Brussels  sprouts  is  both  complicated  and  extensive.  First,  there  is  evidence  from  human  studies 
that  enzyme  systems  in  our  cells  required  for  detoxification  of  cancer-causing  substances  can  be  activated  by  compounds  made 
from  glucosinolates  found  in  Brussels  sprouts.  Brussels  sprouts  are  an  outstanding  source  of  glucosinolates.  The  chart  below 
shows  the  best  studied  of  the  glucosinolates  found  in  Brussels  sprouts  and  the  detox-activating  substances  (called 
isothiocyanates)  made  from  them. 

Glucosinolates  in  Brussels  sprouts  and  their  detox-activating  isothiocyanates 


Glucosinolate 

Derived  Isothiocyanate 

Isothiocyanate  Abbreviation 

glucoraphanin 

sulforaphane 

SFN 

glucobrassicin 

indole-3 -carbinol* 

I3C 

sinigrin 

allyl-isothiocyanate 

AITC 

gluconasturtiian 

phenethyl-isothiocyanate 

PEITC 

* Indole-3 -carbinol  (I3C)  is  not  an  isothiocyanate.  It's  a benzopyrrole,  and  it  is  only  formed  when  isothiocyanates  made  from 
glucobrassicin  are  further  broken  down  into  non-sulfur  containing  compounds. 

Second,  the  body's  detox  system  requires  ample  supplies  of  sulfur  to  work  effectively,  and  Brussels  sprouts  are  rich  in  sulfur- 
containing  nutrients.  Sulfur  is  connected  with  both  the  smell  and  taste  of  Brussels  sprouts,  and  too  much  sulfur  aroma  is  often 
associated  with  overcooking  of  this  vegetable.  Sulfur-containing  nutrients  help  support  what  is  commonly  referred  to  as  Phase 
2 of  detoxification.  Third,  our  body's  detox  system  needs  strong  antioxidant  support — especially  during  what  is  called  Phase  1 
of  detoxification.  Brussels  sprouts  are  able  to  provide  that  kind  of  support  because  they  are  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  C 
and  a very  good  source  of  manganese.  Brussels  sprouts  also  contain  a wide  variety  of  antioxidant  phytonutrients,  including 
many  antioxidant  flavonoids.  Finally,  there  is  evidence  that  the  DNA  in  our  cells  is  protected  by  naturally  occurring  substances 
in  Brussels  sprouts,  and  since  many  environmental  toxins  can  trigger  unwanted  change  in  our  DNA,  Brussels  sprouts  can  help 
prevent  these  toxin-triggered  DNA  changes. 

Brussels  Sprouts  and  Antioxidant  Support 

As  mentioned  earlier,  Brussels  sprouts  are  an  important  dietary  source  of  many  vitamin  antioxidants,  including  vitamins  C and 
A (in  the  form  of  beta-carotene).  The  antioxidant  mineral  manganese  is  also  provided  by  Brussels  sprouts.  Flavonoid 
antioxidants  like  isorhamnetin,  quercitin,  and  kaempferol  are  also  found  in  Brussels  sprouts,  as  are  the  antioxidants  caffeic  acid 


and  ferulic  acid.  In  fact,  one  study  examining  total  intake  of  antioxidant  polyphenols  in  France  found  Brussels  sprouts  to  be  a 
more  important  dietary  contributor  to  these  antioxidants  than  any  other  cruciferous  vegetable,  including  broccoli.  Some  of  the 
antioxidant  compounds  found  in  Brussels  sprouts  may  be  somewhat  rare  in  foods  overall.  One  such  compound  is  a sulfur- 
containing  compound  called  D3T.  (D3T  is  the  abbreviated  name  for  3H-l,2-dithiole-3-thione.)  Researchers  continue  to 
investigate  ways  in  which  D3T  is  able  to  optimize  responses  by  our  body's  antioxidant  system. 

Treated  as  a group,  the  antioxidant  nutrients  described  above  provide  support  not  only  for  Phase  1 of  the  body's  detoxification 
process  but  also  for  all  of  the  body's  cells  that  are  at  risk  of  oxidative  damage  from  overly  reactive  oxygen-containing 
molecules.  Chronic  oxidative  stress — meaning  chronic  presence  of  overly  reactive  oxygen-containing  molecules  and 
cumulative  damage  to  tissue  by  these  molecules  — is  a risk  factor  for  the  development  of  most  cancer  types. 

Brussels  Sprouts  and  Inflammatory/Anti-inflammatory  Support 

Like  chronic  oxidative  stress,  chronic  unwanted  inflammation  is  also  a risk  factor  for  many  types  of  cancer.  Exposure  to 
environmental  toxins,  chronic  overuse  of  prescription  or  over-the-counter  medications,  chronic  excessive  stress,  chronic  lack 
of  exercise,  chronic  lack  of  sleep,  and  a low  quality  diet  can  all  contribute  to  our  risk  of  unwanted  inflammation. 

Brussels  sprouts  can  help  us  avoid  chronic,  excessive  inflammation  through  a variety  of  nutrient  benefits.  First  is  their  rich 
glucosinolate  content.  In  addition  to  the  detox-supportive  properties  mentioned  earlier,  glucosinolates  found  in  Brussels 
sprouts  help  to  regulate  the  body's  inflammatory/anti-inflammatory  system  and  prevent  unwanted  inflammation.  Particularly 
well-studied  in  this  context  is  the  glucosinolate  called  glucobrassicin.  The  glucobrassicin  found  in  Brussels  sprouts  can  get 
converted  into  an  isothiocyanate  molecule  called  ITC,  or  indole-3 -carbinol.  I3C  is  an  anti-inflammatory  compound  that  can 
actually  operate  at  the  genetic  level,  and  by  doing  so,  prevent  the  initiation  of  inflammatory  responses  at  a very  early  stage. 

A second  important  anti-inflammatory  nutrient  found  in  Brussels  sprouts  is  vitamin  K.  Vitamin  K is  a direct  regulator  of 
inflammatory  responses,  and  we  need  optimal  intake  of  this  vitamin  in  order  to  avoid  chronic,  excessive  inflammation. 

A third  important  anti-inflammatory  component  in  Brussels  sprouts  is  not  one  that  you  might  expect.  It's  their  omega-3  fatty 
acids.  We  don't  tend  to  think  about  vegetables  in  general  as  important  sources  of  omega-3s,  and  certainly  no  vegetables  that  are 
as  low  in  total  fat  as  Brussels  sprouts.  But  100  calories'  worth  of  Brussels  sprouts  (about  1.5  cups)  provide  about  480 
milligrams  of  the  most  basic  omega-3  fatty  acid  (called  alpha-linolenic  acid,  or  ALA).  That  amount  is  more  than  one-third  of 
the  daily  ALA  amount  recommended  by  the  National  Academy  of  Sciences  in  the  Dietary  Reference  Intake  recommendations, 
and  it's  about  half  of  the  ALA  contained  in  one  teaspoon  of  whole  flaxseeds.  Omega-3  fatty  acids  are  the  building  blocks  for 
the  one  of  the  body's  most  effective  families  of  anti-inflammatory  messaging  molecules. 

Brussels  Sprouts  and  Cardiovascular  Support 

Researchers  have  looked  at  a variety  of  cardiovascular  problems  — including  heart  attack,  ischemic  heart  disease,  and 
atherosclerosis  — and  found  preliminary  evidence  of  an  ability  on  the  part  of  cruciferous  vegetables  to  lower  our  risk  of  these 
health  problems.  Yet  regardless  of  the  specific  cardiovascular  problem,  it  is  one  particular  type  of  cardiovascular  benefit  that 
has  most  interested  researchers,  and  that  benefit  is  the  anti-inflammatory  nature  of  Brussels  sprouts  and  their  fellow  cruciferous 
vegetables.  Scientists  have  not  always  viewed  cardiovascular  problems  as  having  a central  inflammatory  component,  but  the 
role  of  unwanted  inflammation  in  creating  problems  for  our  blood  vessels  and  circulation  has  become  increasingly 
fundamental  to  an  understanding  of  cardiovascular  diseases.  Of  particular  interest  here  has  been  the  isothiocyanate  (ITC) 
sulforaphane,  which  is  made  from  glucoraphanin  (a  glucosinolate)  found  in  Brussels  sprouts.  Not  only  does  this  ITC  trigger 
anti-inflammatory  activity  in  our  cardiovascular  system  — it  may  also  be  able  to  help  prevent  and  even  possibly  help  reverse 
blood  vessel  damage. 

A second  area  you  can  count  on  Brussels  sprouts  for  cardiovascular  support  involves  their  cholesterol-lowering  ability.  Our 
liver  uses  cholesterol  as  a basic  building  block  to  product  bile  acids.  Bile  acids  are  specialized  molecules  that  aid  in  the 
digestion  and  absorption  of  fat  through  a process  called  emulsification.  These  molecules  are  typically  stored  in  fluid  form  in 
our  gall  bladder,  and  when  we  eat  a fat-containing  meal,  they  get  released  into  the  intestine  where  they  help  ready  the  fat  for 
interaction  with  enzymes  and  eventual  absorption  up  into  the  body.  When  we  eat  Brussels  sprouts,  fiber-related  nutrients  in  this 
cruciferous  vegetable  bind  together  with  some  of  the  bile  acids  in  the  intestine  in  such  a way  that  they  simply  stay  inside  the 
intestine  and  pass  out  of  our  body  in  a bowel  movement  rather  than  getting  absorbed  along  with  the  fat  they  have  emulsified. 
When  this  happens,  our  liver  needs  to  replace  the  lost  bile  acids  by  drawing  upon  our  existing  supply  of  cholesterol,  and,  as  a 
result,  our  cholesterol  level  drops  down.  Brussels  sprouts  provide  us  with  this  cholesterol-lowering  benefit  whether  they  are 
raw  or  cooked.  However,  a recent  study  has  shown  that  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  raw  Brussels  sprouts  improves 
significantly  when  they  are  steamed.  In  fact,  when  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  steamed  Brussels  sprouts  was  compared 


with  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  the  prescription  drug  cholestyramine  (a  medication  that  is  taken  for  the  purpose  of 
lowering  cholesterol),  Brussels  sprouts  bound  27%  as  many  bile  acids  (on  a total  dietary  fiber  basis). 

Brussels  Sprouts  and  Digestive  Support 

The  fiber  content  of  Brussels  sprouts  — 4 grams  in  every  cup  — makes  this  cruciferous  vegetable  a natural  choice  for 
digestive  system  support.  You're  going  to  get  half  of  your  Daily  Value  for  fiber  from  only  200  calories'  worth  of  Brussels 
sprouts.  Yet  the  fiber  content  of  Brussels  sprouts  is  only  one  of  their  digestive  support  mechanisms.  Researchers  have 
determined  that  the  sulforaphane  made  from  Bmssels  sprouts'  glucoraphanin  helps  protect  the  health  of  our  stomach  lining  by 
preventing  bacterial  overgrowth  of  Helicobacter  pylori  in  our  stomach  or  too  much  clinging  by  this  bacterium  to  our  stomach 
wall. 


Other  Health  Benefits  from  Brussels  Sprouts 

The  anti-inflammatory  nature  of  glucosinolates/isothiocyanates  and  other  nutrients  found  in  Brussels  sprouts  has  been  the  basis 
for  new  research  on  inflammation-related  health  problems  and  the  potential  role  of  Brussels  sprouts  in  their  prevention. 

Current  and  potentially  promising  research  is  underway  to  examine  the  benefits  of  Brussels  sprouts  in  relationship  to  our  risk 
of  the  following  inflammation-related  conditions:  Crohn's  disease,  inflammatory  bowel  disease,  insulin  resistance,  irritable 
bowel  syndrome,  metabolic  syndrome,  obesity,  rheumatoid  arthritis,  type  2 diabetes,  and  ulcerative  colitis. 

Description 

All  cruciferous  vegetables  provide  integrated  nourishment  across  a wide  variety  of  nutritional  categories  and  provide  broad 
support  across  a wide  variety  of  body  systems  as  well.  For  more  on  cruciferous  vegetables  see: 

• Eating  Healthy  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

• Feeling  Great  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

Brussels  sprouts  are  members  of  the  Brassica  family  and  therefore  kin  to  broccoli  and  cabbage.  They  resemble  miniature 
cabbages,  with  diameters  of  about  1 inch.  They  grow  in  bunches  of  20  to  40  on  the  stem  of  a plant  that  grows  as  high  as  three 
feet  tall.  Brussels  sprouts  are  typically  sage  green  in  color,  although  some  varieties  feature  a red  hue.  They  are  oftentimes  sold 
separately  but  can  sometimes  be  found  in  stores  still  attached  to  the  stem.  Perfectly  cooked  Brussels  sprouts  have  a crisp,  dense 
texture  and  a slightly  sweet,  bright,  and  "green"  taste. 

It's  no  surprise  that  Brussels  sprouts  look  like  perfect  miniature  versions  of  cabbage  since  they  are  closely  related,  both  belong 
to  the  Brassica  family  of  vegetables.  Brussels  sprouts  are  available  year  round;  however,  they  are  at  their  best  from  autumn 
through  early  spring  when  they  are  at  the  peak  of  their  growing  season. 

History 

While  the  origins  of  Brussels  sprouts  are  unknown,  the  first  mention  of  them  can  be  traced  to  the  late  1 6th  century.  They  are 
thought  to  be  native  to  Belgium,  specifically  to  a region  near  its  capital,  Brussels,  after  which  they  are  named.  They  remained  a 
local  crop  in  this  area  until  their  use  spread  across  Europe  during  World  War  I.  Brussels  sprouts  are  now  cultivated  throughout 
Europe  and  the  United  States.  In  the  U.S.,  almost  all  Brussels  sprouts  are  grown  in  California. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Good  quality  Brussels  sprouts  are  firm,  compact,  and  vivid  green.  They  should  be  free  of  yellowed  or  wilted  leaves  and  should 
not  be  puffy  or  soft  in  texture.  Avoid  those  that  have  perforations  in  their  leaves  as  this  may  indicate  that  they  have  aphids 
residing  within.  If  Brussels  sprouts  are  sold  individually,  choose  those  of  equal  size  to  ensure  that  they  will  cook  evenly. 
Brussels  sprouts  are  available  year  round,  but  their  peak  growing  period  is  from  autumn  until  early  spring. 

Keep  unwashed  and  untrimmed  Brussels  sprouts  in  the  vegetable  compartment  of  the  refrigerator.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in 
Brussels  sprouts — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration.  Stored  in  a plastic 
bag,  they  can  be  kept  for  10  days.  If  you  want  to  freeze  Brussels  sprouts,  steam  them  first  for  between  three  to  five  minutes. 
They  will  keep  in  the  freezer  for  up  to  one  year. 


How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Since  cooked  Brussels  sprouts  are  small  and  compact,  they  make  a great  snack  food  that  can  be  simply  eaten  as  is  or 
seasoned  with  salt  and  pepper  to  taste. 

• Combine  quartered  cooked  Brussels  sprouts  with  sliced  red  onions,  walnuts,  and  your  favorite  mild  tasting  cheese  such 
as  a goat  cheese  or  feta.  Toss  with  olive  oil  and  balsamic  vinegar  for  an  exceptionally  healthy,  delicious  side  dish  or 
salad. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Brussels  Sprouts 

• 5 -Minute  Brussels  Sprouts 

Safety 

Brussels  Sprouts  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  Brussels  sprouts  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is 
"goitrogenic."  For  helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What 
is  meant  bv  the  term  "goitroaen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Brussels  Sprouts,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  56 

156.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

218.87  meg 

243 

77.9 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

96.72  mg 

129 

41.3 

excellent 

folate 

93.60  meg 

23 

7.5 

very  good 

manganese 

0.35  mg 

18 

5.6 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.28  mg 

16 

5.3 

very  good 

fiber 

4.06  g 

16 

5.2 

very  good 

choline 

63.34  mg 

15 

4.8 

very  good 

cooper 

0.13  mg 

14 

4.6 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.17  mg 

14 

4.5 

very  good 

DOtassium 

494.52  mg 

14 

4.5 

very  good 

phosphoms 

87.36  mg 

12 

4.0 

very  good 

omega-3  fats 

0.27  g 

11 

3.6 

very  good 

iron 

1.87  mg 

10 

3.3 

good 

vitamin  B2 

0.12  mg 

9 

3.0 

good 

orotein 

3.98  g 

8 

2.6 

good 

nantothenic  acid 

0.39  mg 

8 

2.5 

good 

maunesium 

31.20  mg 

8 

2.5 

good 

vitamin  A 

60.45  meg  RAE 

7 

2.2 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.95  mg 

6 

1.9 

good 

calcium 

56.16  mg 

6 

1.8 

good 

zinc 

0.51  mg 

5 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/DV >=25  % OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Ambrosone  CB,  Tang  L.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and  cancer  prevention:  role  of  nutrigenetics.  Cancer  Prev  Res 
(Phila  Pa).  2009  Apr;2(4):298-300.  2009. 

• Angeloni  C,  Leoncini  E,  Malaguti  M,  et  al.  Modulation  of  phase  II  enzymes  by  sulforaphane:  implications  for  its 
cardioprotective  potential.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  Jun  24;57(  12):56 1 5-22.  2009. 

• Antosiewicz  J,  Ziolkowski  W,  Kar  S et  al.  Role  of  reactive  oxygen  intermediates  in  cellular  responses  to  dietary  cancer 
chemopreventive  agents.  Planta  Med.  2008  Oct;74(13):  1570-9.  2008. 

• Banerjee  S,  Wang  Z,  Kong  D,  et  al.  3,3'-Diindolylmethane  enhances  chemosensitivity  of  multiple  chemotherapeutic 
agents  in  pancreatic  cancer.  3,3'-Diindolylmethane  enhances  chemosensitivity  of  multiple  chemotherapeutic  agents  in 
pancreatic  cancer.  2009. 

• Bhattacharya  A,  Tang  L,  Li  Y,  et  al.  Inhibition  of  bladder  cancer  development  by  allyl  isothiocyanate.  Carcinogenesis. 
2010  Feb;31(2):281-6.  2010. 

• Brat  P,  George  S,  Bellamy  A,  et  al.  Daily  Polyphenol  Intake  in  France  from  Fruit  and  Vegetables.  J.  Nutr.  136:2368- 
2373,  September  2006.  2006. 

• Bryant  CS,  Kumar  S,  Chamala  S,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  induces  cell  cycle  arrest  by  protecting  RB-E2F-1  complex  in 
epithelial  ovarian  cancer  cells.  Molecular  Cancer  2010,  9:47.  2010. 

• Carpenter  CL,  Yu  MC,  and  London  SJ.  Dietary  isothiocyanates,  glutathione  S-transferase  Ml  (GSTM1),  and  lung  cancer 
risk  in  African  Americans  and  Caucasians  from  Los  Angeles  County,  California.  Nutr  Cancer.  2009;61(4):492-9.  2009. 

• Christopher  B,  Sanjeez  K,  Sreedhar  C,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  induces  cell  cycle  arrest  by  protecting  RB-E2F-1  complex  in 
epithelial  ovarian  cancer  cells.  Molecular  Cancer  Year:  2010  Vol:  9 Issue:  1 Pages/record  No.:  47.  2010. 

• Clarke  JD,  Dashwood  RH,  Ho  E.  Multi-targeted  prevention  of  cancer  by  sulforaphane.  Cancer  Lett.  2008  Oct 
8;269(2):291-304.  2008. 

• Comelis  MC,  El-Sohemy  A,  Campos  H.  GSTT1  genotype  modifies  the  association  between  cruciferous  vegetable  intake 
and  the  risk  of  myocardial  infarction.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2007  Sep;86(3):752-8.  2007. 

• Fowke  JH,  Morrow  JD,  Motley  S,  et  al.  Brassica  vegetable  consumption  reduces  urinary  F2-isoprostane  levels 
independent  of  micronutrient  intake.  Carcinogenesis,  October  1,  2006;  27(10):  2096  - 2102.  2006. 

• Higdon  JV,  Delage  B,  Williams  DE,  et  al.  Cruciferous  Vegetables  and  Human  Cancer  Risk:  Epidemiologic  Evidence  and 
Mechanistic  Basis.  Pharmacol  Res.  2007  March;  55(3):  224-236.  2007. 

• Hoelzl  C,  Glatt  H,  Simic  T,  et  al.  DNA  protective  effects  of  Brussels  sprouts:  Results  of  a human  intervention  study. 
AACR  Meeting  Abstracts,  Dec  2007;  2007:  B67.  2007. 

• Hu  J,  Straub  J,  Xiao  D,  et  al.  Phenethyl  isothiocyanate,  a cancer  chemopreventive  constituent  of  cruciferous  vegetables, 
inhibits  cap-dependent  translation  by  regulating  the  level  and  phosphorylation  of  4E-BP 1 . Cancer  Res.  2007  Apr 
15;67(8):3569-73.  2007. 

• Hutzen  B,  Willis  W,  Jones  S,  et  al.  Dietary  agent,  benzyl  isothiocyanate  inhibits  signal  transducer  and  activator  of 
transcription  3 phosphorylation  and  collaborates  with  sulforaphane  in  the  growth  suppression  of  PANC-1  cancer  cells. 
Cancer  Cell  International  2009,  9:24.  2009. 

• Jiang  H,  Shang  X,  Wu  H,  et  al.  Combination  treatment  with  resveratrol  and  sulforaphane  induces  apoptosis  in  human 
U251  glioma  cells.  Neurochem  Res.  2010  Jan;35(l):152-61.  2010. 

• Kahlon  TS,  Chiu  MC,  and  Chapman  MH.  Steam  cooking  significantly  improves  in  vitro  bile  acid  binding  of  collard 
greens,  kale,  mustard  greens,  broccoli,  green  bell  pepper,  and  cabbage.  Nutr  Res.  2008  Jun;28(6):351-7.  2008. 

• Kelemen  LE,  Cerhan  JR,  Lim  U,  et  al.  Vegetables,  fruit,  and  antioxidant-related  nutrients  and  risk  of  non-Hodgkin 
lymphoma:  a National  Cancer  Institute-Surveillance,  Epidemiology,  and  End  Results  population-based  case-control 
study.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006  Jun;83(6):  1401-10.  2006. 


• Konsue  N,  loannides  C.  Modulation  of  carcinogen-metabolising  cytochromes  P450  in  human  liver  by  the 
chemopreventive  phytochemical  phenethyl  isothiocyanate,  a constituent  of  cruciferous  vegetables.  Toxicology.  2010  Feb 
9;268(3):  1 84-90.  2010. 

• Kunimasa  K,  Kobayashi  T,  Kaji  K et  al.  Antiangiogenic  effects  of  indole-3-carbinol  and  3,3'-diindolylmethane  are 
associated  with  their  differential  regulation  of  ERK1/2  and  Akt  in  tube-forming  HUVEC.  J Nutr.  2010  Jan;  140(1):  1-6. 
2010. 

• Lakhan  SE,  Kirchgessner  A,  Hofer  M.  Inflammatory  mechanisms  in  ischemic  stroke:  therapeutic  approaches.  Journal  of 
Translational  Medicine  2009,  7:97.  2009. 

• Larsson  SC,  Andersson  SO,  Johansson  JE,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  consumption  and  risk  of  bladder  cancer:  a 
prospective  cohort  study.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2008  Sep;17(9):2519-22.  2008. 

• Li  F,  Hullar  MAJ,  Schwarz  Y,  et  al.  Human  Gut  Bacterial  Communities  Are  Altered  by  Addition  of  Cruciferous 
Vegetables  to  a Controlled  Fruit-  and  Vegetable-Free  Diet.  Journal  of  Nutrition,  Vol.  139,  No.  9,  1685-1691,  September 

2009.  2009. 

• Lin  J,  Kamat  A,  Gu  J,  et  al.  Dietary  intake  of  vegetables  and  fruits  and  the  modification  effects  of  GSTM1  and  NAT2 
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• Machijima  Y,  Ishikawa  C,  Sawada  S,  et  al.  Anti-adult  T-cell  leukemia/lymphoma  effects  of  indole-3 -carbinol. 

Retro  virology  2009,  6:7.  2009. 

• McMillan  M,  Spinks  EA,  and  Fenwick  GR.  Preliminary  observations  on  the  effect  of  dietary  brussels  sprouts  on  thyroid 
function.  Hum  Toxicol.  1 986;5(1):  15-19.  1986. 

• Moore  LE,  Brennan  P,  Karami  S,  et  al.  Glutathione  S-transferase  polymorphisms,  cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and 
cancer  risk  in  the  Central  and  Eastern  European  Kidney  Cancer  Study.  Carcinogenesis.  2007  Sep;28(9):  1960-4.  Epub 
2007  Jul  7.  2007. 

• Nettleton  JA,  Steffen  LM,  Mayer-Davis  EJ,  et  al.  Dietary  patterns  are  associated  with  biochemical  markers  of 
inflammation  and  endothelial  activation  in  the  Multi-Ethnic  Study  of  Atherosclerosis  (MESA).  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006 
Jun;83(6):  1369-79.  2006. 

• Rungapamestry  V,  Duncan  AJ,  Fuller  Z et  al.  Effect  of  cooking  brassica  vegetables  on  the  subsequent  hydrolysis  and 
metabolic  fate  of  glucosinolates.  Proc  Nutr  Soc.  2007  Feb;66(l):69-81.  2007. 

• Silberstein  JL,  Parsons  JK.  Evidence-based  principles  of  bladder  cancer  and  diet.  Urology.  2010  Feb;75(2):340-6.  2010. 

• Steinbrecher  A,  Linseisen  J.  Dietary  Intake  of  Individual  Glucosinolates  in  Participants  of  the  EPIC-Heidelberg  Cohort 
Study.  Ann  Nutr  Metab  2009;54:87-96.  2009. 

• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Guru  K,  et  al.  Consumption  of  Raw  Cruciferous  Vegetables  is  Inversely  Associated  with  Bladder 
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• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Jayaprakash  V,  et  al.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  is  inversely  associated  with  lung  cancer  risk 
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• Tarozzi  A,  Morroni  F,  Merlicco  A,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  as  an  inducer  of  glutathione  prevents  oxidative  stress-induced  cell 
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2010. 


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Cabbage 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Cabbage 

• Cabbage  can  provide  you  with  some  special  cholesterol-lowering  benefits  if  you  will  cook  it  by  steaming.  The  fiber- 
related  components  in  cabbage  do  a better  job  of  binding  together  with  bile  acids  in  your  digestive  tract  when  they've 
been  steamed.  When  this  binding  process  takes  place,  it's  easier  for  bile  acids  to  be  excreted,  and  the  result  is  a lowering 
of  your  cholesterol  levels.  Raw  cabbage  still  has  cholesterol-lowering  ability,  just  not  as  much  as  steamed  cabbage. 

• Researchers  now  realize  that  different  types  of  cabbage  (red,  green,  and  Savoy)  contain  different  patterns  of 
glucosinolates.  This  new  knowledge  means  that  your  broadest  health  benefits  from  cabbage  are  likely  to  come  from 
inclusion  of  all  varieties  in  your  diet. 

• Cabbage  in  general — but  also  Savoy  cabbage  in  particular — turns  out  to  be  an  especially  good  source  of  sinigrin. 

Sinigrin  is  one  of  the  cabbage  glucosinolates  that  has  received  special  attention  in  cancer  prevention  research.  The 
sinigrin  in  cabbage  can  be  converted  into  allyl-isothiocyanate,  or  A1TC.  This  isothiocyanate  compound  has  shown 
unique  cancer  preventive  properties  with  respect  to  bladder  cancer,  colon  cancer,  and  prostate  cancer. 

• In  one  recent  study,  short-cooked  and  raw  cabbage  were  the  only  types  of  cabbage  to  show  cancer-preventive  benefits — 
long-cooked  cabbage  failed  to  demonstrate  measurable  benefits. 

• Our  Healthy  Saute  method,  which  we  recommend  for  cabbage,  is  very  similar  to  steaming  and  enhances  the  flavor  the  of 
cabbage.  See  "How  to  Enjoy"  below. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  cabbage  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  we  recommend  3/4  cup  of  cruciferous 
vegetables  on  a daily  basis.  This  amount  is  equivalent  to  approximately  5 cups  per  week.  A more  optimal  intake  amount  would 
be  1-1/2  cups  per  day,  or  about  10  cups  per  week.  You  can  use  our  Veggie  Advisor  for  help  in  figuring  out  your  best 
cruciferous  vegetable  options. 

Traditional  methods  of  steaming  or  boiling  make  cabbage  watery.  To  retain  the  maximum  number  of  nutrients  and  flavor  we 
recommend  Healthy  Sauteeing  cabbage.  Slice  cabbage  into  1/4-inch  slices  and  let  sit  for  5 minutes  to  enhance  its  health- 
promoting  benefits  before  cooking.  For  more  details  see  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Cabbage  below. 

Our  Chinese  Chicken  Cabbage  Salad  recipe  is  a great  example  of  how  to  enjoy  the  delicate  flavor  of  napa  cabbage  in  your 
favorite  salad.  It  is  a milder  tasting  variety  of  cabbage  that  boasts  the  highest  concentration  of  folate. 

Enjoy  the  mild  flavor  of  bok  choy  by  using  our  Healthy  Saute  method  of  cooking.  Our  4-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Bok  Chov 
recipe  will  give  you  great  tasting  bok  choy  in  a matter  of  minutes! 

Red  Cabbage 

While  green  cabbage  is  the  most  commonly  eaten  variety  of  cabbage,  we  highly  recommend  trying  red  cabbage  because  of  its 
added  nutritional  benefits  and  its  robust  hearty  flavor.  We  don't  think  you  will  be  disappointed.  The  rich  red  color  of  red 
cabbage  reflects  its  concentration  of  anthocyanin  polyphenols,  which  contribute  to  red  cabbage  containing  significantly  more 
protective  phytonutrients  than  green  cabbage.  Interest  in  anthocyanin  pigments  continues  to  intensify  because  of  their  health 
benefits  as  dietary  antioxidants,  as  an  anti-inflammatory,  and  their  potentially  protective,  preventative,  and  therapeutic  roles  in 
a number  of  human  diseases. 

A recent  study  showed  that  a 100  gram  (about  3 ounces)  serving  of  raw  red  cabbage  delivers  196.5  milligrams  of  polyphenols, 
of  which  28.3  milligrams  are  anthocyanins.  Green  cabbages  yielded  much  less  per  100  grams:  45  milligrams  of  polyphenols 
including  0.01  milligram  of  anthocyanins.  The  vitamin  C equivalent,  a measure  of  antioxidant  capacity,  of  red  cabbage  is  also 
six  to  eight  times  higher  than  that  of  green  cabbage.  Red  cabbage  is  one  of  the  most  nutritious  and  best  tasting  vegetables 
around  — a great  addition  to  your  Healthiest  Way  of  Eating. 


Cabbage,  red,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(150.00  grams) 

Calories:  44 

GI:  very  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

Health  Benefits 

Cancer  prevention  tops  all  other  areas  of  health  research  with  regard  to  cabbage  and  its  outstanding  benefits.  More  than  475 
studies  have  examined  the  role  of  this  cruciferous  vegetable  in  cancer  prevention  (and  in  some  cases,  cancer  treatment).  The 
uniqueness  of  cabbage  in  cancer  prevention  is  due  to  the  three  different  types  of  nutrient  richness  found  in  this  widely  enjoyed 
food.  The  three  types  are  (1)  antioxidant  richness,  (2)  anti-inflammatory  richness,  and  (3)  richness  in  glucosinolates. 

Antioxidant-Related  Health  Benefits 

Cabbage  ranked  in  our  WHFoods  rating  system  as  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  C and  a very  good  source  of  manganese.  But 
in  terms  of  antioxidants  in  the  newer,  phytonutrient  category,  cabbage  is  impressive,  even  among  cruciferous  vegetables. 
Polyphenols  rank  at  the  top  of  the  list  for  phytonutrient  antioxidants  in  cabbage.  In  fact,  one  group  of  researchers  has  described 
polyphenols  as  the  primary  factor  in  cabbage's  overall  antioxidant  capacity.  Even  white  cabbage  (a  very  lightly-colored  form  of 
green  cabbage  and  the  most  commonly  eaten  variety  of  cabbage  in  the  U.S.)  provides  about  50  milligrams  of  polyphenols  in  a 
half-cup  serving.  Red  cabbage  is  even  more  unique  among  the  cruciferous  vegetables  in  providing  about  30  milligrams  of  the 
red  pigment  polyphenols  called  anthocyanins  in  each  half  cup.  (These  anthocyanins  qualify  not  only  as  antioxidant  nutrients, 
but  as  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  as  well.)  The  antioxidant  richness  of  cabbage  is  partly  responsible  for  its  cancer  prevention 
benefits.  Without  sufficient  intake  of  antioxidants,  our  oxygen  metabolism  can  become  compromised,  and  we  can  experience  a 
metabolic  problem  called  oxidative  stress.  Chronic  oxidative  stress — in  and  of  itself — can  be  a risk  factor  for  development  of 
cancer. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

Without  sufficient  intake  of  anti-inflammatory  nutrients,  regulation  of  our  inflammatory  system  can  become  compromised,  and 
we  can  experience  the  problem  of  chronic  inflammation.  Especially  when  combined  together  with  oxidative  stress,  chronic 
inflammation  is  a risk  factor  for  development  of  cancer. 

The  anthocyanins  found  in  red  cabbage  are  well-documented  anti-inflammatory  compounds,  and  make  red  cabbage  a standout 
anti-inflammatory  food  for  this  reason.  Elowever,  all  types  of  cabbage  contain  significant  amounts  of  polyphenols  that  provide 
anti-inflammatory  benefits. 

Glucosinolates  and  Cancer  Prevention 

Given  the  roles  of  oxidative  stress  and  chronic  inflammation  as  risk  factors  for  cancer,  the  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory 
richness  of  cabbage  would  provide  anti-cancer  health  benefits  without  the  addition  of  cabbage's  glucosinolates.  But 
glucosinolates  are  cabbage's  trump  card  with  regard  to  "anti-cancer"  benefits.  The  glucosinolates  found  in  cabbage  can  be 
converted  into  isothiocyanate  compounds  that  are  cancer  preventive  for  a variety  of  different  cancers,  including  bladder  cancer, 
breast  cancer,  colon  cancer,  and  prostate  cancer.  Different  types  of  cabbage  highlight  different  glucosinolates,  as  summarized 
in  the  chart  below: 


Glucosinolates  in  Cabbage  and  Their  Anti-Cancer  Thiocyanates 


Best  Cabbage  Source 

Glucosinolate 

Derived  Isothiocyanate 

Isothiocyanate  Abbreviation 

red  cabbage 

glucoraphanin 

sulforaphane 

SFN 

savoy  cabbage 

glucobrassicin 

indole-3 -carbinol* 

I3C 

savoy  and  green  cabbage 

sinigrin 

allyl-isothiocyanate 

AITC 

green  cabbage 

glucotropaeolin 

benzyl-isothiocyanate 

BITC 

* Indole-3 -carbinol  (I3C)  is  not  an  isothiocyanate.  It's  a benzopyrrole,  and  it  is  only  formed  when  isothiocyanates  made  from 
glucobrassicin  are  further  broken  down  into  non-sulfur  containing  compounds. 

The  isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  made  from  cabbage's  glucosinolates  act  to  protect  us  against  cancer  through  a variety  of  different 
mechanisms.  In  some  cases,  they  help  regulate  inflammation  by  altering  the  activity  of  messaging  molecules  within  our  body's 
inflammatory  system.  In  other  cases,  they  improve  our  body's  detoxification  system  and  leave  our  cells  with  a smaller  toxic 
load.  But  the  bottom  line  is  decreased  risk  of  cancer  from  consumption  of  cabbage  and  its  glucosinolates.  We've  seen  one 
study,  from  Poland,  showing  impressive  reduction  of  breast  cancer  risk  in  women  consuming  large  amounts  of  cabbage.  (In 
this  particular  study,  this  reduction  in  risk  was  associated  with  consumption  of  at  least  4 cabbage  servings  per  week,  in 
comparison  with  the  once-per-week  serving  consumed  by  women  with  higher  breast  cancer  risk.) 

Digestive  Tract  Support 

Long-established  in  health  research  is  the  role  of  cabbage  juice  in  helping  heal  stomach  ulcers  (called  peptic  ulcers),  but  more 
recent  studies  on  cabbage  have  looked  at  the  overall  health  benefits  of  this  food  for  the  stomach  and  digestive  tract  as  a whole. 
Present-day  studies  make  it  clear  that  cabbage  contains  a variety  of  nutrients  of  potential  benefit  to  our  stomach  and  intestinal 
linings.  These  nutrients  include  glucosinolates  (and  the  anti-inflammatory  isothiocyanates  or  ITCs  made  from  them), 
antioxidant  polyphenols,  and  the  amino  acid-like  substance  called  glutamine.  In  the  case  of  ITCs,  digestive  tract  benefits 
include  proper  regulation  of  bacterial  populations  of  Helicobacter  pylori  inside  the  stomach.  These  bacteria  are  normal 
stomach  inhabitants,  but  their  populations  can  become  too  large  and  they  can  latch  onto  the  stomach  lining  in  an  undesirable 
way.  The  ITCs  made  from  cabbage's  glucosinolates  can  lower  the  risk  of  these  unwanted  stomach  events. 

Cardiovascular  Support 

You  can  count  on  cabbage  to  provide  your  cardiovascular  system  with  valuable  support  in  the  form  of  cholesterol  reduction. 
Researchers  understand  exactly  how  this  process  takes  place.  Your  liver  uses  cholesterol  as  a basic  building  block  to  produce 
bile  acids.  Bile  acids  are  specialized  molecules  that  aid  in  the  digestion  and  absorption  of  fat  through  a process  called 
emulsification.  These  molecules  are  typically  stored  in  fluid  form  in  your  gall  bladder,  and  when  you  eat  a fat-containing  meal, 
they  get  released  into  the  intestine  where  they  help  ready  the  fat  for  interaction  with  enzymes  and  eventual  absorption  up  into 
the  body.  When  you  eat  cabbage,  fiber-related  nutrients  in  this  cruciferous  vegetable  bind  together  with  some  of  the  bile  acids 
in  the  intestine  in  such  a way  that  they  simply  stay  inside  the  intestine  and  pass  out  of  your  body  in  a bowel  movement,  rather 
than  getting  absorbed  along  with  the  fat  they  have  emulsified.  When  this  happens,  your  liver  needs  to  replace  the  lost  bile  acids 
by  drawing  upon  your  existing  supply  of  cholesterol,  and  as  a result,  your  cholesterol  level  drops  down.  Cabbage  provides  you 
with  this  cholesterol-lowering  benefit  whether  it  is  raw  or  cooked.  However,  a recent  study  has  shown  that  the  cholesterol- 
lowering ability  of  raw  cabbage  improves  significantly  when  it  is  steamed.  In  fact,  when  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of 
steamed  cabbage  was  compared  with  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  the  prescription  drug  cholestyramine  (a  medication 
that  is  taken  for  the  purpose  of  lowering  cholesterol),  cabbage  bound  17%  as  many  bile  acids  (based  on  a standard  of 
comparison  involving  total  dietary  fiber). 

Description 

Cabbage  has  a round  shape  and  is  composed  of  superimposed  leaf  layers.  It  is  a member  of  the  food  family  traditionally  known 
as  cruciferous  vegetables  and  is  related  to  kale,  broccoli,  collards  and  Brussels  sprouts.  All  cruciferous  vegetables  provide 
integrated  nourishment  across  a wide  variety  of  nutritional  categories  and  provide  broad  support  across  a wide  variety  of  body 
systems  as  well.  For  more  on  cruciferous  vegetables  see: 

• Eating  Healthy  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

• Feeling  Great  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 


The  word  "brassica"  translates  in  Latin  as  "cabbage,"  and  this  word  is  being  used  more  and  more  by  researchers  to  refer  to  the 
entire  group  of  cruciferous  vegetables.  You'll  find  many  plant  scientists  now  using  the  Latin  word  Brassicaceae  and  the  phrase 
" brassica  vegetables"  instead  of  Latin  word  Cruciferae  and  the  traditional  phrase  "cruciferous  vegetables"  when  referring  to 
cabbage,  kale,  broccoli,  collards  and  other  foods  in  this  vegetable  subgroup. 

Because  cabbage's  inner  leaves  are  protected  from  the  sunlight  by  the  surrounding  leaves,  they  are  oftentimes  lighter  in  color. 
There  are  three  major  types  of  cabbage:  green,  red,  and  Savoy.  The  color  of  green  cabbage  ranges  from  pale  to  dark  green. 

Both  green  and  red  cabbage  have  smooth-textured  leaves.  Red  cabbage  has  leaves  that  are  either  crimson  or  purple  with  white 
veins  running  through  it.  The  leaves  of  Savoy  cabbage  are  more  ruffled  and  yellowish-green  in  color.  Red  and  green  cabbage 
have  a more  defined  taste  and  crunchy  texture  as  compared  to  Savoy  cabbage's  more  delicate  nature.  Bok  choy  as  well  as 
Chinese  (Napa)  cabbage  are  other  varieties  of  cabbage  available.  Bok  choy  has  a mild  flavor  and  a higher  concentration  of 
vitamin  A.  Chinese  cabbage,  with  its  pale  green  ruffled  leaves,  is  great  to  use  in  salads.  Red  cabbage  contains  additional  health 
benefits  not  found  in  green  cabbage. 

Sturdy,  abundant,  and  inexpensive,  cabbage  is  a longstanding  dietary  staple  throughout  the  world  and  is  so  widely  cultivated 
and  stores  so  well  that  it  is  available  throughout  the  year.  However,  it  is  at  its  best  during  the  late  fall  and  winter  months  when 
it  is  in  season. 

History 

Cabbage  has  a long  history  of  use  both  as  a food  and  a medicine.  It  was  developed  from  wild  cabbage,  a vegetable  that  was 
closer  in  appearance  to  collards  and  kale  since  it  was  composed  of  leaves  that  did  not  form  a head. 

It  is  thought  that  wild  cabbage  was  brought  to  Europe  around  600  B.C.  by  groups  of  Celtic  wanderers.  It  was  grown  in  Ancient 
Greek  and  Roman  civilizations  that  held  it  in  high  regard  as  a general  panacea  capable  of  treating  a host  of  health  conditions. 

While  it's  unclear  when  and  where  the  headed  cabbage  that  we  know  today  was  developed,  cultivation  of  cabbage  spread 
across  northern  Europe  into  Germany,  Poland  and  Russia,  where  it  became  a very  popular  vegetable  in  local  food  cultures.  The 
Italians  are  credited  with  developing  the  Savoy  cabbage.  Russia,  Poland,  China  and  Japan  are  a few  of  the  leading  producers  of 
cabbage  today. 

Sauerkraut,  a dish  made  from  fermented  cabbage,  has  a colorful  legacy.  Dutch  sailors  consumed  it  during  extended  exploration 
voyages  to  prevent  scurvy.  Early  German  settlers  introduced  cabbage  and  the  traditional  sauerkraut  recipe  were  introduced  into 
the  United  States.  As  a result  of  this  affiliation,  German  soldiers,  and  people  of  German  descent  were  often  referred  to  as 
"krauts." 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  cabbage  heads  that  are  firm  and  dense  with  shiny,  crisp,  colorful  leaves  free  of  cracks,  bruises,  and  blemishes.  Severe 
damage  to  the  outer  leaves  is  suggestive  of  worm  damage  or  decay  that  may  reside  in  the  inner  core  as  well. 

There  should  be  only  a few  outer  loose  leaves  attached  to  the  stem.  If  not,  it  may  be  an  indication  of  undesirable  texture  and 
taste.  Avoid  buying  precut  cabbage,  either  halved  or  shredded,  since  once  cabbage  is  cut,  it  begins  to  lose  its  valuable  vitamin 
C content. 

Put  the  whole  head  in  a plastic  bag  in  the  crisper  of  your  refrigerator.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  cabbage — for  example,  its 
vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration.  Red  and  green  cabbage  will  keep  if  stored  this  way  for 
about  2 weeks  while  Savoy  cabbage  will  keep  for  about  1 week. 

If  you  need  to  store  a partial  head  of  cabbage,  cover  it  tightly  with  plastic  wrap  and  refrigerate.  Since  the  vitamin  C content  of 
cabbage  starts  to  quickly  degrade  once  it  has  been  cut,  you  should  use  the  remainder  within  a couple  of  days. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Braise  red  cabbage  with  a chopped  apple  and  red  wine.  This  is  a child-friendly  dish  since  the  alcohol  (but  not  the  flavor 
or  the  flavonoids)  will  evaporate. 


• Combine  shredded  red  and  green  cabbage  with  fresh  lemon  juice,  olive  oil,  and  seasonings  such  as  turmeric,  cumin, 
coriander,  and  black  pepper  to  make  coleslaw  with  an  Indian  twist. 

Some  WHFoods  recipes  that  feature  cabbage: 

• Asian  Chicken  Salad 

• Chinese  Chicken  Cabbage  Salad 

• Spicy  Cabbage  Soup 

• Poached  Fish  with  Napa  Cabbage 

• Sesame  Braised  Chicken  & Cabbage 

• Sweet  N'  Sour  Cod  with  Cabbage  and  Broccoli 

• Vegetarian  Stir-Fry 

• Napa  Cabbage  Salad 

• 5-Minute  Flealthv  Sauteed  Red  Cabbage 

• Gingered  Cabbage 

Safety 

Cabbage  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  cabbage  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is  "goitrogenic."  For 
helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What  is  meant  by  the 
term  "goitrogen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Cabbage,  red,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  44 

150.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

71.40  meg 

79 

32.8 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

51.60  mg 

69 

28.5 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.34  mg 

20 

8.3 

excellent 

manganese 

0.33  mg 

17 

6.8 

very  good 

fiber 

3-90  g 

16 

6.5 

very  good 

ootassium 

393.00  mg 

11 

4.6 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.11  mg 

9 

3.8 

very  good 

folate 

36.00  meg 

9 

3.7 

very  good 

cooper 

0.08  mg 

9 

3.7 

very  good 

choline 

32.10  mg 

8 

3.1 

good 

phosphorus 

49.50  mg 

7 

2.9 

good 

vitamin  B2 

0.09  mg 

7 

2.9 

good 

magnesium 

25.50  mg 

6 

2.6 

good 

calcium 

63.00  mg 

6 

2.6 

good 

selenium 

3.45  meg 

6 

2.6 

good 

iron 

0.99  mg 

6 

2.3 

good 

nantothenic  acid 

0.23  mg 

5 

1.9 

good 

orotein 

2.27  g 

5 

1.9 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.57  mg 

4 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRLDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=l  .5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Ambrosone  CB,  Tang  L.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and  cancer  prevention:  role  of  nutrigenetics.  Cancer  Prev  Res 
(Phila  Pa).  2009  Apr;2(4):298-300.  2009. 

• Bhattacharya  A,  Tang  L,  Li  Y,  et  al.  Inhibition  of  bladder  cancer  development  by  allyl  isothiocyanate.  Carcinogenesis. 
2010  Feb;31(2):281-6.  2010. 

• Higdon  JV,  Delage  B,  Williams  DE,  et  al.  Cruciferous  Vegetables  and  Human  Cancer  Risk:  Epidemiologic  Evidence  and 
Mechanistic  Basis.  Pharmacol  Res.  2007  March;  55(3):  224-236.  2007. 

• Hu  R,  Khor  TO,  Shen  G,  Jeong  WS,  Hebbar  V,  Chen  C,  Xu  C,  Reddy  B,  Chada  K,  Kong  AN.  Cancer  chemoprevention 
of  intestinal  polyposis  in  ApcMin/+  mice  by  sulforaphane,  a natural  product  derived  from  cruciferous  vegetable. 
Carcinogenesis.  2006  May  4;  [Epub  ahead  of  print.  2006.  PMID:16675473. 

• Kahlon  TS,  Chiu  MC,  Chapman  MH.  Steam  cooking  significantly  improves  in  vitro  bile  acid  binding  of  collard  greens, 
kale,  mustard  greens,  broccoli,  green  bell  pepper,  and  cabbage.  2008  Jun;28(6):351-7.  2008. 

• Kurilich  AC,  Tsau  GJ,  Brown  A,  et  al.  Carotene,  tocopherol,  and  ascorbate  contents  in  subspecies  of  Brassica  oleracea.  J 
Agric  Food  Chem  1999  Apr;47(4):  1576-8 1 . 1999.  PMID:13300. 

• Kushad  MM,  Brown  AF,  Kurilich  AC,  et  al.  Variation  of  glucosinolates  in  vegetable  crops  of  Brassica  oleracea.  J Agric 
Food  Chem  1999  Apr;47(4):1541-8.  1999.  PM1D:13320. 

• Kusznierewicz,  B,  Bartoszek  A.,  Wolska,  L et  al.  Partial  characterization  of  white  cabbages  (Brassica  oleracea  var. 
capitata  f.  alba)  from  different  regions  by  glucosinolates,  bioactive  compounds,  total  antioxidant  activities,  and  proteins. 
LWT  Food  Science  and  Technology  2008,  41,  1-9.  2008. 

• Miron  A,  Hancianu  M,  Aprotosoaie  AC  et  al.  [Contributions  to  chemical  study  of  the  raw  polysaccharide  isolated  from 
the  fresh  pressed  juice  of  white  cabbage  leaves].  Rev  Med  Chir  Soc  Med  Nat  Iasi.  2006  Oct-Dec;  110(4):  1020-6.  2006. 

• Prawan  A,  Saw  CL,  Khor  TO  et  al.  Anti-NF-kappaB  and  anti-inflammatory  activities  of  synthetic  isothiocyanates:  effect 
of  chemical  structures  and  cellular  signaling.  Chem  Biol  Interact.  2009  May  1 5;  1 79(2-3):202-l  1 . 2009. 

• Rungapamestry  V,  Duncan  AJ,  Fuller  Z et  al.  Effect  of  cooking  brassica  vegetables  on  the  subsequent  hydrolysis  and 
metabolic  fate  of  glucosinolates.  Proc  Nutr  Soc.  2007  Feb;66(l):69-81.  2007. 

• Silberstein  JL,  Parsons  JK.  Evidence-based  principles  of  bladder  cancer  and  diet.  Urology.  2010  Feb;75(2):340-6.  2010. 

• Steinbrecher  A,  Linseisen  J.  Dietary  Intake  of  Individual  Glucosinolates  in  Participants  of  the  EPIC-Heidelberg  Cohort 
Study.  Ann  Nutr  Metab  2009;54:87-96.  2009. 

• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Guru  K,  et  al.  Consumption  of  Raw  Cruciferous  Vegetables  is  Inversely  Associated  with  Bladder 
Cancer  Risk.  2007  Apr  15;67(8):3569-73.  2007. 

• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Jayaprakash  V,  et  al.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  is  inversely  associated  with  lung  cancer  risk 
among  smokers:  a case-control  study.  BMC  Cancer  2010,  10:162.  2010. 

• Vidrih  R,  Filip  S,  Hribar  J.  Content  of  higher  fatty  acids  in  green  vegetables.  Czech  Journal  of  Food  Sciences  2009,  27 
Special  Issue:  S125—S129.  2009. 

• Voorrips  LE,  Goldbohm  RA,  et  al.  Vegetable  and  fruit  consumption  and  risks  of  colon  and  rectal  cancer  in  a prospective 
cohort  study:  The  Netherlands  Cohort  Study  on  Diet  and  Cancer.  Am  J Epidemiol.  2000  Dec  1 ; 1 52(1 1 ):  108 1 -92.  2000. 
PMID:11117618. 

• Zhao  H,  Lin  J,  Grossman  HB,  Hernandez  LM,  Dinney  CP,  Wu  X.  Dietary  isothiocyanates,  GSTM1,  GSTT1,  NAT2 
polymorphisms  and  bladder  cancer  risk.  Int  J Cancer.  2007  May  15;120(10):2208-13.  2007.  PM1D:  17290402. 


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Carrots 


Although  carrots  are  available  throughout  the  year,  locally  grown  carrots  are  in  season  in  the  summer  and  fall  when  they  are 
the  freshest  and  most  flavorful.  Carrots  belong  to  the  Umbelliferae  family,  named  after  the  umbrella-like  flower  clusters  that 
plants  in  this  family  produce.  As  such,  carrots  are  related  to  parsnips,  fennel,  parsley,  anise,  caraway,  cumin  and  dill.  Carrots 
can  be  as  small  as  two  inches  or  as  long  as  three  feet,  ranging  in  diameter  from  one-half  of  an  inch  to  over  two  inches.  Carrot 
roots  have  a crunchy  texture  and  a sweet  and  minty  aromatic  taste,  while  the  greens  are  fresh  tasting  and  slightly  bitter.  While 
we  usually  associate  carrots  with  the  color  orange,  carrots  can  actually  be  found  in  a host  of  other  colors  including  white, 
yellow,  red,  or  purple.  In  fact,  purple,  yellow  and  red  carrots  were  the  only  color  varieties  of  carrots  to  be  cultivated  before  the 
15  th  or  16th  century. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Carrots 

• We  are  fortunate  to  have  the  results  of  a new  10-year  study  from  the  Netherlands  about  carrot  intake  and  risk  of 
cardiovascular  disease  (CVD) — and  those  results  are  fascinating.  Intake  of  fruits  and  vegetables  in  the  study  was 
categorized  by  color  and  focused  on  four  color  categories:  green,  orange/yellow,  red/purple,  and  white.  Out  of  these  four 
categories,  orange/yellow  (and  in  particular,  foods  with  deeper  shades  of  orange  and  yellow)  emerged  as  most  protective 
against  CVD.  And  even  more  striking,  carrots  were  determined  to  be  the  most  prominent  member  of  this  dark 
orange/yellow  food  category.  Participants  who  had  the  least  carrot  intake  had  the  least  amount  of  CVD  risk  reduction, 
even  though  they  still  received  risk-reducing  benefits  from  their  carrot  intake.  However,  participants  who  ate  at  least  25 
more  grams  of  carrots  (with  25  grams  being  less  than  one-quarter  of  a cup)  had  a significantly  lower  risk  of  CVD.  And 
the  groups  of  participants  who  ate  50-  or  75-grams  more  had  an  even  more  greatly  reduced  risk  of  CVD!  We're  not  sure 
how  any  study  could  better  demonstrate  how  easy  it  can  be  to  lower  disease  risk  by  making  a food  like  carrot  part  of  the 
everyday  diet  in  such  achievable  amounts. 

• Much  of  the  research  on  carrots  has  traditionally  focused  on  carotenoids  and  their  important  antioxidant  benefits.  After 
all,  carrots  (along  with  pumpkin  and  spinach)  rank  high  on  the  list  of  all  commonly-consumed  U.S.  antioxidant 
vegetables  in  terms  of  their  beta-carotene  content.  But  recent  research  has  turned  the  health  spotlight  onto  another 
category  of  phytonutrients  in  carrots  called  polyacetylenes.  In  carrots,  the  most  important  polyacetylenes  include 
falcarinol  and  falcarindiol.  Several  recent  studies  have  identified  these  carrot  polyacetylenes  as  phytonutrients  that  can 
help  inhibit  the  growth  of  colon  cancer  cells,  especially  when  these  polyacetylenes  are  found  in  their  reduced  (versus 
oxidized)  form.  These  new  findings  are  exciting  because  they  suggest  a key  interaction  between  the  carotenoids  and 
polyacetylenes  in  carrots.  Apparently,  the  rich  carotenoid  content  of  carrots  not  only  helps  prevent  oxidative  damage 
inside  our  body,  but  it  may  also  help  prevent  oxidative  damage  to  the  carrot  polyacetylenes.  In  other  words,  these  two 
amazing  groups  of  phytonutrients  in  carrots  may  work  together  in  a synergistic  way  to  maximize  our  health  benefits! 

• Even  people  who  usually  boil  carrots  have  discovered  that  they  taste  better  steamed!  In  a recent  study  examining 
different  methods  for  cooking  vegetables,  study  participants  were  asked  to  evaluate  the  flavor  and  overall  acceptability 
of  the  results.  In  comparison  to  boiling,  participants  in  the  study  significantly  favored  the  flavor  and  overall  acceptability 
of  steamed  carrots  to  boiled  carrots.  This  preference  was  also  expressed  by  participants  who  had  always  boiled  carrots  in 
their  previous  kitchen  practices. 

• Not  surprisingly,  research  on  the  carotenoids  in  carrots  has  become  fairly  sophisticated  and  we  now  know  that  it's 
especially  important  to  protect  one  specific  form  of  beta-carotene  found  in  carrots  called  the  (all-E)-beta-carotene 
isomer.  That  form  of  beta-carotene  appears  to  have  better  bioavailability  and  antioxidant  capacity  than  another  beta- 
carotene  form  called  the  Z (cis)  isomer  form.  With  this  new  knowledge  of  beta-carotene  specifics,  researchers  in 
Victoria,  Australia  wondered  about  the  stability  of  (all-E)-beta-carotene  under  proper  storage  conditions.  What  they 
found  was  excellent  retention  of  (all-E)-beta-carotene  under  the  right  storage  conditions.  Over  several  weeks  period  of 
time  at  refrigerator  temperatures  and  with  good  humidity  (as  might  be  provided,  for  example  by  the  wrapping  of  carrots 
in  damp  paper  and  placement  in  an  air-tight  container),  there  was  very  good  retention  of  the  carrots'  (all-e)-beta-carotene. 
While  we  always  like  the  idea  of  vegetable  consumption  in  freshly-picked  form,  this  finding  is  great  news  and  gives  all 
of  us  more  flexibility  for  incorporating  carrots  into  our  diet. 


Carrots,  sliced,  raw 
1.00  cup 
(122.00  grams) 

Calories:  50 
GI:  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  A 

113% 

biotin 

20% 

vitamin  K 

18% 

fiber 

14% 

molvbdenum 

14% 

potassium 

11% 

vitamin  C 

10% 

vitamin  B6 

10% 

manganese 

9% 

vitamin  B3 

8% 

vitamin  B 1 

7% 

pantothenic  acid 

7% 

copper 

6% 

phosphorus 

6% 

folate 

6% 

vitamin  B2 

5% 

vitamin  E 

5% 

Health  Benefits 

Carrots  are  perhaps  best  known  for  their  rich  supply  of  the  antioxidant  nutrient  that  was  actually  named  for  them:  beta- 
carotene.  However,  these  delicious  root  vegetables  are  the  source  not  only  of  beta-carotene,  but  also  of  a wide  variety  of 
antioxidants  and  other  health-supporting  nutrients.  The  areas  of  antioxidant  benefits,  cardiovascular  benefits,  and  anti-cancer 
benefits  are  the  best-researched  areas  of  health  research  with  respect  to  dietary  intake  of  carrots. 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

All  varieties  of  carrots  contain  valuable  amounts  of  antioxidant  nutrients.  Included  here  are  traditional  antioxidants  like 
vitamin  C,  as  well  as  phytonutrient  antioxidants  like  beta-carotene.  The  list  of  carrot  phytonutrient  antioxidants  is  by  no  means 
limited  to  beta-carotene,  however.  This  list  includes: 

• Carotenoids 

o alpha-carotene 
o beta-carotene 
o lutein 

• Hydroxycinnamic  acids 

o caffeic  acid 
o coumaric  acid 
o ferulic  acid 

• Anthocyanindins 

o cyanidins 
o malvidins 

Different  varieties  of  carrots  contain  differing  amounts  of  these  antioxidant  phytonutrients.  Red  and  purple  carrots,  for 
example,  are  best  known  for  the  rich  anthocyanin  content.  Oranges  are  particularly  outstanding  in  terms  of  beta-carotene, 
which  accounts  for  65%  of  their  total  carotenoid  content.  In  yellow  carrots,  50%  of  the  total  carotenoids  come  from  lutein. 
You're  going  to  receive  outstanding  antioxidant  benefits  from  each  of  these  carrot  varieties! 

Cardiovascular  Benefits 

Given  their  antioxidant  richness,  it's  not  surprising  to  find  numerous  research  studies  documenting  the  cardiovascular  benefits 
of  carrots.  Our  cardiovascular  system  needs  constant  protection  from  antioxidant  damage.  This  is  particularly  true  of  our 
arteries,  which  are  responsible  for  carrying  highly  oxygenated  blood. 

A recent  study  from  the  Netherlands,  in  which  participants  were  followed  for  a period  of  10  years,  has  given  us  some 
fascinating  new  information  about  carrots  and  our  risk  of  cardiovascular  disease  (CVD).  In  this  study,  intake  of  fruits  and 
vegetables  was  categorized  by  color.  The  researchers  focused  on  four  color  categories:  green,  orange/yellow,  red/purple,  and 
white.  Out  of  these  four  categories,  orange/yellow  (and  in  particular,  foods  with  deeper  shades  of  orange  and  yellow)  was 
determined  to  be  the  most  protective  against  CVD.  Within  this  dark  orange/yellow  food  group,  carrots  were  determined  to  be 
the  single  most  risk-reducing  food.  Participants  who  had  the  least  carrot  intake  had  the  least  amount  of  CVD  risk  reduction, 
even  though  they  still  received  risk-reducing  benefits  from  their  carrot  intake.  However,  participants  who  ate  at  least  25  more 
grams  of  carrots  (with  25  grams  being  less  than  one-quarter  of  a cup)  had  a significantly  lower  risk  of  CVD.  And  the  groups  of 


participants  who  ate  50-  or  75-grams  more  had  an  even  more  greatly  reduced  risk  of  CVD!  We're  not  sure  how  any  study  could 
better  demonstrate  how  easy  it  can  be  to  lower  CVD  risk  by  making  a food  like  carrot  part  of  the  everyday  diet. 

Antioxidant  nutrients  in  carrots  are  believed  to  explain  many  of  the  cardioprotective  benefits  provided  by  these  root  vegetables. 
The  many  different  kinds  of  carrot  antioxidants  are  most  likely  to  work  together  and  provide  us  with  cardiovascular  benefits 
that  we  could  not  obtain  from  any  of  these  antioxidants  alone  if  they  were  split  apart  and  consumed  individually,  in  isolation 
from  each  other.  The  synergistic  effect  of  carrot  antioxidants  is  a great  example  of  a whole  food  and  its  uniqueness  as  a source 
of  nourishment. 

Yet  in  addition  to  the  diverse  mixture  of  carrot  antioxidants,  there  is  yet  another  category  of  carrot  phytonutrient  that  is 
believed  to  help  explain  carrot  protection  against  cardiovascular  disease.That  category  is  polyacetylenes.  Polyacetylenes  are 
unique  phytonutrients  made  from  metabolism  of  particular  fatty  acids  (often  involving  crepenynic  acid,  stearolic  acid  and 
tariric  acid).  They  are  particularly  common  in  the  Apiaceae/Umbelliferae  family  of  plants  (which  includes  carrot).  The  two 
best-researched  polyacetylenes  in  carrot  are  falcarinol  and  falcarindiol.  Preliminary  research  on  animals  and  in  the  lab  has 
shown  that  carrot  polyacetylenes  have  anti-inflammatory  properties  and  anti-aggregatory  properties  (that  help  prevent 
excessive  clumping  together  of  red  blood  cells).  So  in  addition  to  the  unique  mix  of  antioxidants  in  carrot,  polyacetylenes  may 
play  a key  role  in  the  cardiovascular  protection  provided  by  this  amazing  food. 

Vision  Health 

While  you  might  expect  to  find  a large  number  of  human  research  studies  documenting  the  benefits  of  carrot  intake  for  eye 
health,  there  are  relatively  few  studies  in  this  area.  Most  studies  about  carotenoids  and  eye  health  have  focused  on  carotenoid 
levels  in  the  bloodstream  and  the  activities  of  the  carotenoids  themselves,  rather  than  the  food  origins  of  carotenoids  (like 
carrots).  Still,  we  have  found  some  smaller  scale  human  studies  that  show  clear  benefits  of  carrot  intake  for  eye  health.  For 
example,  researchers  at  the  Jules  Stein  Institute  at  the  University  of  California  at  Los  Angeles  determined  that  women  who 
consume  carrots  at  least  twice  per  week  - in  comparison  to  women  who  consume  carrots  less  than  once  per  week  - have 
significantly  lower  rates  of  glaucoma  (damage  to  the  optic  nerve  often  associated  with  excessive  pressure  inside  the  eye). 

Intake  of  geranyl  acetate  - one  of  the  photonutrients  that  is  present  in  carrot  seeds  (and  sometimes  extracted  from  purified 
carrot  seed  oil)  has  also  been  repeatedly  associated  with  reduced  risk  of  cataracts  in  animal  studies.  However,  researchers  have 
yet  to  analyze  the  amount  of  geranyl  acetate  in  the  root  portion  of  the  carrot  and  the  impact  of  dietary  intake  on  risk  of 
cataracts. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

The  anti-cancer  benefits  of  carrot  have  been  best  researched  in  the  area  of  colon  cancer.  Some  of  this  research  has  involved 
actual  intake  of  carrot  juice  by  human  participants,  and  other  research  has  involved  the  study  of  human  cancer  cells  types  in  the 
lab.  While  much  more  research  is  needed  in  this  area,  the  study  results  to  date  have  been  encouraging.  Lab  studies  have  shown 
the  ability  of  carrot  extracts  to  inhibit  the  grown  of  colon  cancer  cells,  and  the  polyacetylenes  found  in  carrot  (especially 
falcarinol)  have  been  specifically  linked  to  this  inhibitory  effect.  In  studies  of  carrot  juice  intake,  small  but  significant  effects 
on  colon  cell  health  have  been  shown  for  participants  who  consumed  about  1.5  cups  of  fresh  carrot  juice  per  day. 

We're  confident  that  future  studies  in  this  area  will  show  carrot  intake  as  being  protective  against  risk  of  colon  cancer.  Carrots 
are  simply  too  rich  in  digestive  tract-supporting  fiber,  antioxidant  nutrients,  and  unique  phytonutrients  like  falcarinol  to  be 
neutral  when  it  comes  to  support  of  the  lower  digestive  tract  and  colon  cancer  protection. 

Description 

As  one  of  the  most  popular  root  vegetables  in  the  U.S.  - and  widely  enjoyed  in  many  other  countries  as  well  - carrots  almost 
feel  like  an  old  friend  for  many  people  who  are  looking  for  just  the  right  crunchy  snack  or  addition  to  a salad.  We've  even  seen 
one  study  of  8-1 1 year-old  children  in  France  who  were  given  pictures  of  54  vegetables  and  were  mostly  likely  to  pick  out 
carrots  (along  with  lettuce  and  tomatoes)  as  easily  identifiable  and  likeable  vegetables.  In  the  U.S.,  there  seems  to  be  an  equal 
liking  for  carrots  at  the  other  end  of  the  age  spectrum  as  well.  Individuals  76  years  of  age  and  older  eat  twice  as  many  carrots 
as  individuals  under  40,  with  the  overall  average  being  about  1 cup  of  carrots  per  week. 

It's  easiest  to  identify  carrots  as  belonging  to  the  Umbelliferae  family  of  plants,  since  their  leafy  greens  form  an  umbrella-like 
cluster  at  the  top  of  the  root.  However,  this  same  family  of  plants  is  also  commonly  known  as  the  Apiaceae  family.  While  the 
International  Code  of  Botanical  Nomenclature  accepts  both  designations,  the  use  of  Apiaceae  is  becoming  more  and  more 
common  in  carrot  research.  This  same  botanical  family  includes  parsley,  anise,  celery,  parsnips,  fennel,  caraway,  cumin  and 
dill. 


The  name  "carrot"  comes  from  the  Greek  word  "karoton,"  whose  first  three  letters  (kar)  are  used  to  designate  anything  with  a 
horn-like  shape.  (That  horn-like  shape,  of  course,  refers  to  the  taproot  of  the  carrot  that  is  the  plant  part  we're  most  accustomed 
to  consuming  in  the  U.S.).  The  beta-carotene  that  is  found  in  carrots  was  actually  named  for  the  carrot  itself! 

Even  though  U.S.  consumers  are  most  familiar  with  carrots  as  root  vegetables  bright  orange  in  color,  an  amazing  variety  of 
colors  are  found  worldwide  for  this  vegetable.  (All  of  these  color  varieties,  however,  still  belong  to  the  same  genus  and  species 
of  plant,  Daucus  carota.)  Here  is  a short  list  of  some  of  the  more  popular  carrot  varieties,  categorized  by  color: 

• Orange  Carrots 

o Scarlet  Nantes  (especially  valued  for  its  sweetness) 
o Danvers  (often  raised  for  processing) 

° Camden  (often  raised  for  processing) 

o Other  popular  varieties  include  Navajo,  Sirkana,  Top  Cut  and  Inca 

• Purples  Carrots 

o Indigo 
o Maroon 
o Purple  Dragon 
° Cosmic  Purple 
o Purple  Haze 

• Yellow  Carrots 

o Sunlite 
o Solar  Yellow 
o Yellowstone 

• White  Carrots 

o Creme  De  Lite 
o White  Satin 

• Red  Carrots 

o Supreme  Chateney 
o Red  Samurai 

History 

The  carrot  can  trace  its  ancestry  back  thousands  of  years,  originally  having  been  cultivated  in  central  Asian  and  Middle  Eastern 
countries,  along  with  parts  of  Europe.  These  original  carrots  looked  different  from  those  that  we  are  accustomed  to  today, 
featuring  red,  purple,  and  yellow  coloring  rather  than  the  bright  orange  that  we've  become  accustomed  to  in  U.S.  supermarkets. 
Carrots  became  widely  cultivated  in  Europe  during  the  15th  and  16th  centuries  and  were  first  brought  over  to  North  America 
during  this  same  general  time  period. 

In  today's  commercial  marketplace,  China  currently  produces  about  one-third  of  all  carrots  bought  and  sold  worldwide.  Russia 
is  the  second  largest  carrot  producer,  with  the  U.S.  following  a close  third.  Many  European  countries  produce  substantial 
amounts  of  carrots  (over  400,000  metric  tons)  and  Turkey,  Mexico,  India,  Indonesia,  Australia  and  Canada  are  also  important 
countries  in  the  worldwide  production  of  carrots.  Within  the  U.S.,  about  12,000  acres  of  carrots  for  processing  are  planted  each 
year,  resulting  in  about  320,000  tons  of  carrots.  Over  80%  of  all  fresh  market  carrot  production  in  the  U.S.  comes  from 
California,  with  Michigan  and  Texas  emerging  as  the  next  two  largest  fresh  production  states. 

Currently,U.S.  adults  average  about  12  pounds  of  carrot  intake  each  year.  Approximately  9 pounds  are  being  consumed  in  fresh 
form,  with  the  other  3 pounds  are  being  consumed  in  frozen  or  canned  products.  This  amount  translates  into  approximately  1 
cup  of  carrots  each  week  in  fresh,  frozen,  or  canned  form. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Carrot  roots  should  be  firm,  smooth,  relatively  straight  and  bright  in  color.  The  deeper  the  orange-color,  the  more  beta-carotene 
is  present  in  the  carrot.  Avoid  carrots  that  are  excessively  cracked  or  forked  as  well  as  those  that  are  limp  or  rubbery.  In 
addition,  if  the  carrots  do  not  have  their  tops  attached,  look  at  the  stem  end  and  ensure  that  it  is  not  darkly  colored  as  this  is 
also  a sign  of  age.  If  the  green  tops  are  attached,  they  should  be  brightly  colored,  feathery  and  not  wilted.  Since  the  sugars  are 
concentrated  in  the  carrots'  core,  generally  those  with  larger  diameters  will  have  a larger  core  and  therefore  be  sweeter. 

Carrots  are  hardy  vegetables  that  will  keep  longer  than  many  others  if  stored  properly.  The  trick  to  preserving  the  freshness  of 
carrot  roots  is  to  minimize  the  amount  of  moisture  they  lose.  To  do  this,  make  sure  to  store  them  in  the  coolest  part  of  the 


refrigerator  in  a plastic  bag  or  wrapped  in  a paper  towel,  which  will  reduce  the  amount  of  condensation  that  is  able  to  form. 
Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  carrots — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

They  should  be  able  to  keep  fresh  for  about  two  weeks.  Research  has  shown  that  the  especially  valuable  (all-E)-beta-carotene 
isomer  is  well-retained  in  carrots  if  stored  properly.  Carrots  should  also  be  stored  away  from  apples,  pears,  potatoes  and  other 
fruits  and  vegetables  that  produce  ethylene  gas  since  it  will  cause  them  to  become  bitter. 

If  you  purchase  carrot  roots  with  attached  green  tops,  the  tops  should  be  cut  off  before  storing  in  the  refrigerator  since  they  will 
cause  the  carrots  to  wilt  prematurely  as  they  pull  moisture  from  the  roots.  While  the  tops  can  be  stored  in  the  refrigerator,  kept 
moist  by  being  wrapped  in  a damp  paper,  they  should  really  be  used  soon  after  purchase  since  they  are  fragile  and  will  quickly 
begin  to  wilt. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Shredded  raw  carrots  and  chopped  carrot  greens  make  great  additions  to  salads. 

• Combine  shredded  carrots,  beets  and  apples,  and  eat  as  a salad. 

• For  quick,  nutritious  soup  that  can  be  served  hot  or  cold,  puree  boiled  carrots  and  potatoes  in  a blender  or  food 
processor,  and  add  herbs  and  spices  to  taste. 

• Spiced  carrot  sticks  are  a flavorful  variation  on  an  old  favorite  at  parties  or  at  the  dinner  table.  Soak  carrot  sticks  in  hot 
water  spiced  with  cayenne,  coriander  seeds  and  salt.  Allow  to  cool,  drain  and  serve. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Include  Carrots 

• Asian  Chicken  Salad 

• Bariev  Mushroom  Soup 

• Carrot  Coconut  Soup 

• Minestrone  Surprise 

• Red  Kidney  Bean  Soup  with  Lime  Yogurt 

• Super  Energy  Kale  Soup 

• 15-Minute  Seared  Tuna  with  Sage 

• Poached  Halibut  with  Fennel  and  Cauliflower 

• Flolidav  Turkey  with  Rice  Stuffing  & Gravy  with  Fresh  Herbs 

• Asian-Flavored  Broccoli  with  Tofu 

• Braised  Kidney  Beans  & Sweet  Potato 

• Curried  Lentils 

• Miso  Stir-Fry 

• Moroccan  Eggplant  with  Garbanzo  Beans 

• Primavera  Verde 

• Great  Antipasto  Salad 

• Super  Carrot  Raisin  Salad 

• Carrot  Cashew  Pate 

• Carrots  with  Flonev  Mustard  Sauce 

• Garlic  Dip  with  Crudites 

• Minted  Carrots  with  Pumpkin  Seeds 

• Minted  Green  Peas  & Carrots 

• Steamed  Vegetable  Medley 

Safety 

Carrots  and  Carotoderma 

Excessive  consumption  of  carotene-rich  foods  may  lead  to  a condition  called  carotoderma  in  which  the  palms  or  other  skin 
develops  a yellow  or  orange  cast.  This  yellowing  of  the  skin  is  presumably  related  to  carotenemia,  excessive  levels  of  carotene 
in  the  blood.  The  health  impact  of  carotenemia  is  not  well  researched.  Eating  or  juicing  high  amounts  of  foods  rich  in  carotene, 
like  carrots,  may  over  tax  the  body's  ability  to  convert  these  foods  to  vitamin  A.  The  body  slowly  converts  carotene  to  vitamin 


A,  and  extra  carotene  is  stored,  usually  in  the  palms,  soles  or  behind  the  ears.  If  the  cause  of  the  carotenemia  is  eating 
excessively  high  amounts  of  foods  like  carrots,  the  condition  will  usually  disappear  after  reducing  consumption. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Carrots,  sliced,  raw 

1.00  cup  Calories:  50 

122.00  grams  GI:  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  A 

1019.07  meg  RAE 

113 

40.7 

excellent 

biotin 

6.10  meg 

20 

7.3 

very  good 

vitamin  K 

16.10  meg 

18 

6.4 

very  good 

fiber 

3.42  g 

14 

4.9 

very  good 

molybdenum 

6.10  meg 

14 

4.9 

very  good 

notassium 

390.40  mg 

11 

4.0 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.17  mg 

10 

3.6 

very  good 

vitamin  C 

7.20  mg 

10 

3.5 

very  good 

manganese 

0.17  mg 

9 

3.1 

good 

vitamin  B3 

1.20  mg 

8 

2.7 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.08  mg 

7 

2.4 

good 

nantothenic  acid 

0.33  mg 

7 

2.4 

good 

phosphoms 

42.70  mg 

6 

2.2 

good 

folate 

23.18  meg 

6 

2.1 

good 

coDDer 

0.05  mg 

6 

2.0 

good 

vitamin  E 

0.81  mg  (ATE) 

5 

1.9 

good 

vitamin  B2 

0.07  mg 

5 

1.9 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Agricultural  Marketing  Resource  Center  (AgMRC).  Carrot  Profile.  201  l;Iowa  State  University,  Ames,  10.  Available 
online  at:  http://www.agmrc.org.  0. 

• de  Jesus  Omelas-Paz  J , Yahia  EM  and  Gardea-Bejar  AA.  Bioconversion  Efficiency  of  B-Carotene  from  Mango  Fruit 
and  Carrots.  Vitamin  A Journal:  American  Journal  of  Agricultural  and  Biological  Science  Year:  2010  Vol:  5 Issue:  3 
Pages/record  No.:  301-308.  2010. 

• Imsic  M,  Winkler  S,  Tomkins  B et  al.  Effect  of  storage  and  cooking  on  beta-carotene  isomers  in  carrots  ( Daucus  carota 
L.  cv.  'Stefeno').  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2010  Apr  28;5 8(8):5 1 09- 1 3 . 2010. 


• Kjellenberg  L,  Johansson  E,  Gustavsson  KE  et  al.  Effects  of  harvesting  date  and  storage  on  the  amounts  of 
polyacetylenes  in  carrots,  Daucus  carota.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2010  Nov  24;58(22):  1 1 703-8.  Epub  2010  Oct  21.  2010. 

• Lemmens  L,  Colie  IJ,  Van  Buggenhout  S et  al.  Quantifying  the  influence  of  thermal  process  parameters  on  in  vitro  B- 
carotene  bioaccessibility:  a case  study  on  carrots.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2011  Apr  1 3;59(7):3 162-7.  Epub  2011  Mar  15. 
2011. 

• Lin  BH  and  Lucier  G.  Carrot  Consumption  Varies  With  Age,  Income,  and  Race.  Amber  Waves.  Washington:  Apr  2008. 
Vol.  6,  Iss.  2;  p.  4.  2008. 

• Matejkova  J and  Petrikova  K.  Variation  in  Content  of  Carotenoids  and  Vitamin  C in  Carrots  . Notulae  Scientia 
Biologicae  Year:  2010  Vol:  2 Issue:  4 Pages/record  No.:  88-91.  2010. 

• Metzger  BT  and  Barnes  DM.  Polyacetylene  diversity  and  bioactivity  in  orange  market  and  locally  grown  colored  carrots 
(Daucus  carota  L.).  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  Dec  9;57(23):  11134-9.  2009. 

• Morizet  D,  Depezay  L,  Masse  P et  al.  Perceptual  and  lexical  knowledge  of  vegetables  in  preadolescent  children. 
Appetite.  2011  Aug;57(l):  142-7.  Epub  2011  Apr  16.  2011. 

• Neri  L,  Hernando  Hernando  I,  Perez-Munuera  1 et  al.  Effect  of  blanching  in  water  and  sugar  solutions  on  texture  and 
microstructure  of  sliced  carrots.  J Food  Sci.  2011  Jan-Feb;76(l):E23-30.  doi:  10.1 1 11/j.  1 750-384 1 .201 0.01 906.x.  Epub 
2010  Nov  29.  2011. 

• Nicolle  C,  Simon  G,  Rock  E et  al.  Genetic  Variability  Influences  Carotenoid,  Vitamin,  Phenolic,  and  Mineral  Content  in 
White,  Yellow,  Purple,  Orange,  and  Dark-orange  Carrot  Cultivars.  J.  Amer.  Soc.  Hort.  Sci.,  Jul  2004;  129:  523-529. 
2004. 

• Oude  Griep  LM,  Monique  Verschuren  WM,  Kromhout  D et  al.  Colours  of  fruit  and  vegetables  and  10-year  incidence  of 
CHD.  Br  J Nutr.  2011  Jun  8:1-8.  [Epub  ahead  of  print].  2011. 

• Pump  S,  Larsen  E and  Christensen  LP.  Differential  Effects  of  Falcarinol  and  Related  Aliphatic  Cl  7-Polyacetylenes  on 
Intestinal  Cell  Proliferation.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  September  23;  57(18):  8290 — 8296.  2009. 

• Rennie  C and  Wise  A.  Preferences  for  steaming  of  vegetables.  J Hum  Nutr  Diet.  2010  Feb;23(l):108-10.  Epub  2009 
Nov  23.  2010. 

• Soltoft  M,  Bysted  A,  Madsen  KH  et  al.  Effects  of  organic  and  conventional  growth  systems  on  the  content  of 
carotenoids  in  carrot  roots,  and  on  intake  and  plasma  status  of  carotenoids  in  humans.  J Sci  Food  Agric.  2011  Mar 
15;91(4):767-75.  doi:  10.1002/jsfa.4248.  Epub  2011  Jan  6.  2011. 

• Tang  G.  Bioconversion  of  dietary  provitamin  A carotenoids  to  vitamin  A in  humans.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2010 
May;91(5):1468S-1473S.  Epub  2010  Mar  3.  2010. 

• Theodosiou  M,  Laudet  V and  Schubert  M.  . From  carrot  to  clinic:  an  overview  of  the  retinoic  acid  signaling  pathway. 
Cellular  and  Molecular  Life  Sciences.  Basel:  May  2010.  Vol.  67,  Iss.  9;  p.  1423-1445.  2010. 

• Wang  ZX,  Dong  PC,  Sun  TT  et  al.  [Comparison  of  lutein,  zeaxanthin  and  B-carotene  level  in  raw  and  cooked  foods 
consumed  in  Beijing].  Zhonghua  Yu  Fang  Yi  Xue  Za  Zhi.  2011  Jan;45(l):64-7.  Chinese.  2011. 

• Zidorn  C,  Johrer  K,  Ganzera  M et  al.  Polyacetylenes  from  the  Apiaceae  vegetables  carrot,  celery,  fennel,  parsley,  and 
parsnip  and  their  cytotoxic  activities.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2005  Apr  6;53(7):25 18-23.  2005. 


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Cauliflower 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Cauliflower 

• Information  gathered  for  a large-scale  study  called  the  European  Prospective  Investigation  into  Cancer  and  Nutrition 
(EPIC)  has  shown  cauliflower  to  be  an  especially  popular  cruciferous  vegetable  in  10  western  European  countries,  tying 
for  first  place  with  cabbage  for  the  vegetable  consumed  most  frequently.  Here  is  how  cauliflower  stacked  up  against 
other  cruciferous  vegetables  as  a percentage  of  all  vegetables  eaten:  e cauliflower  (25%);  white  cabbage  (13%),  and 
cabbage  "unspecified"  (12%).  It  is  also  interesting  to  compare  cauliflower  with  broccoli  in  the  study  findings  since 
cauliflower  accounted  for  a greater  percentage  of  total  vegetable  consumption  than  broccoli  (18%). 

• Recent  studies  have  shown  that  boiling,  full  submersion  of  cauliflower  in  water  when  cooking,  is  not  the  best  cooking 
practice  if  you  want  to  preserve  key  phytonutrients  in  this  cruciferous  vegetable.  In  one  study,  3 minutes  of  cauliflower 
submersion  in  a full  pot  of  boiling  water  was  enough  to  draw  out  more  phytonutrients  than  10  full  minutes  of  steaming. 
Glucosinolates  and  flavonoids  were  the  phytonutrients  lost  from  cauliflower  in  greater  amounts  with  full  water 
submersion. 

• At  least  in  some  countries,  cooked  cauliflower  is  greatly  preferred  over  raw  cauliflower.  The  European  Prospective 
Investigation  into  Cancer  and  Nutrition  (EPIC) — also  referred  to  above — has  found  that  80%  of  the  cauliflower 
consumed  in  10  European  countries  (including  France,  Italy,  Spain,  Germany,  Greece,  the  Netherlands,  Norway,  Sweden 
and  Denmark)  is  enjoyed  in  cooked  form  (versus  raw). 

• Several  recent  studies  have  shown  the  cooking  of  raw  cauliflower  to  significantly  improve  its  ability  to  bind  together 
with  bile  acids.  Since  bile  acid  binding  is  a well-documented  method  for  helping  regulate  blood  cholesterol  levels,  these 
studies  point  to  potential  cardiovascular  benefits  from  consumption  of  cooked  cauliflower.  The  most  detailed  study  that 
we  have  seen  in  this  area  examined  cauliflower  that  had  been  steamed  for  10  minutes. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  cauliflower  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  we  recommend  3/4  cup  of  cruciferous 
vegetables  on  a daily  basis.  This  amount  is  equivalent  to  approximately  5 cups  per  week.  A more  optimal  intake  amount  would 
be  1-1/2  cups  per  day,  or  about  10  cups  per  week.  You  can  use  our  Veggie  Advisor  for  help  in  figuring  out  your  best 
cruciferous  vegetable  options. 

As  with  all  vegetables,  be  sure  not  to  overcook  cauliflower.  We  suggest  Healthy  Sauteeing  cauliflower  rather  than  the  more 
traditional  methods  of  boiling  or  steaming,  which  makes  them  waterlogged,  mushy  and  lose  much  of  its  flavor.  Cut  cauliflower 
florets  into  quarters  and  let  sit  for  5 minutes  before  cooking.  For  great  tasting  cauliflower  add  1 teaspoon  of  turmeric  when 
adding  the  cauliflower  to  the  skillet. 


Cauliflower,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(124.00  grams) 

Calories:  29 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  C 

73% 

vitamin  K 

19% 

folate 

14% 

1 

nantothenic  acid 

13% 

vitamin  B6 

12% 

choline 

11% 

fiber 

11% 

omega-3  fats 

9% 

manganese 

8% 

phosphorus 

6% 

biotin 

5% 

potassium 

5% 

vitamin  B2 

5% 

protein 

5% 

vitamin  B 1 

4% 

maenesium 

3% 

| vitamin  B3 

Health  Benefits 


3% 


Perhaps  because  the  most  commonly  consumed  varieties  of  cauliflower  are  white,  many  people  may  not  associate  cauliflower 
with  the  same  nutrient  richness  as  its  fellow  green  cruciferous  vegetables  like  broccoli  or  kale.  This  perspective  on  cauliflower 
does  not  match  up  with  the  research  findings  on  this  amazing  food.  White  varieties  of  cauliflower  are  just  as  rich  in 
phytonutrients  as  green  cruciferous  vegetables,  and  this  nutrient  richness  is  exemplified  by  its  glucosinolates,  described  below. 

Glucosinolates  in  Cauliflower 

The  phytonutrients  provided  by  cauliflower  are  headed  off  by  its  glucosinolates.  These  sulfur-containing  compounds  are  well- 
studied  and  known  to  provide  a variety  of  health  benefits.  The  glucosinolates  best-studied  in  cauliflower  include: 

• glucobrassicin 

• glucoiberin 

• glucoerucin 

• glucoraphanin 

• neo-glucobrassicin 

• progoitrin 

• sinigrin 

• 4-hydroxyglucobrassicin 

• 4-methoxyglucobrassicin 

Glucosinolates  are  the  subject  of  increasing  health  research,  and  the  more  that  is  learned  about  glucosinolates,  the  broader 
scientists  see  their  role  in  supporting  our  body  systems.  The  list  of  body  systems  supported  by  intake  of  glucosinolates  from 
cauliflower  and  other  cruciferous  vegetables  has  now  come  to  include  our  cardiovascular,  digestive,  immune,  inflammatory, 
and  detoxification  systems.  For  in-depth  information  about  glucosinolates  and  health  support,  see  our  article  Feeling  Great 
with  Cruciferous  Vegetables. 

Antioxidants  in  Cauliflower 

Beta-carotene,  beta-cryptoxanthin,  caffeic  acid,  cinnamic  acid,  ferulic  acid,  quercetin,  rutin,  and  kaempferol  are  among 
cauliflower's  key  antioxidant  phytonutrients.  An  emphatic  addition  to  this  list  would  be  vitamin  C,  since  cauliflower  is  our 
10th  best  source  of  vitamin  C among  all  100  WHFoods.  Like  most  of  its  fellow  cruciferous  vegetables,  cauliflower  is  also  a 
very  good  source  of  manganese — a mineral  antioxidant  that  is  especially  important  in  oxygen-related  metabolism. 

Recent  research  has  begun  to  investigate  the  relationship  between  cauliflower's  overall  antioxidant  capacity  and  its  sulfur- 
containing  glucosinolates.  The  glucosinolates  in  cauliflower  appear  to  have  an  important  relationship  with  its  antioxidant 
capacity,  although  scientists  are  not  yet  sure  about  the  exact  role  that  glucosinolates  play  in  this  regard. 

A final  note  about  cauliflower  antioxidants:  the  Graffiti  variety  of  purple  cauliflower  has  been  the  subject  of  several  recent 
research  studies  and  has  been  shown  to  have  especially  strong  antioxidant  capacity  due  to  its  rich  concentration  of 
anthocyanins.  If  you  decide  to  incorporate  purple  cauliflower  into  your  meal  plan,  we  recommend  that  you  be  extra  careful  to 
avoid  overcooking.  Research  studies  on  anthocyanins  in  cauliflower  have  shown  that  the  greatest  proportion  of  these 
antioxidant  pigments  is  found  in  the  outermost  layers  of  the  cauliflower  head  and  this  location  makes  them  especially 
susceptible  to  loss  from  overcooking. 

Cauliflower  and  Risk  of  Specific  Health  Conditions 

Intake  of  cauliflower  has  been  analyzed  in  relationship  to  a variety  of  different  disease  risks.  When  consumed  at  least  once  per 
week,  cauliflower  has  been  associated  with  decreased  risk  of  colorectal  cancer  and  has  been  shown  to  be  associated  with  a 
greater  decrease  of  risk  than  broccoli  (when  consumed  in  a comparable  amount).  In  terms  of  prostate  cancer  risk,  cauliflower 
and  broccoli  have  shown  a similar  ability  to  decrease  risk.  While  we  have  not  seen  individual  studies  focused  exclusively  on 
the  relationship  between  cauliflower  and  cardiovascular  diseases,  cauliflower  has  been  included  along  with  other  cruciferous 
vegetables  (most  commonly  broccoli  and  cabbage)  in  studies  on  cardiovascular  diseases  and  has  been  repeatedly  associated 
with  decrease  risk.  Because  of  its  ability  to  bind  bile  acids,  intake  of  cooked  cauliflower  has  also  been  linked  to  better 
regulation  of  blood  cholesterol.  In  one  study  focusing  on  intake  of  broccoli,  cabbage,  cauliflower,  and  Brussels  sprouts  in 


middle-aged  women,  incidence  of  obesity  was  reduced  when  women  in  the  study  increased  their  servings  over  time  by  about  3 
servings  per  day. 

Nutritional  Benefits  From  Raw  Versus  Cooked  Cauliflower 

Studies  show  strong  nutrient  richness  in  both  raw  and  cooked  cauliflower.  We've  been  impressed  by  study  results  not  only  in 
areas  involving  conventional  nutrients  like  vitamin  C but  also  in  areas  involving  phytonutrients  like  sulfur-containing 
compounds  and  flavonoids.  Although  there  can  be  loss  of  water-soluble  nutrients  during  cooking  with  water  or  other  liquids, 
there  can  also  be  increased  bioavailability  from  the  freeing  up  of  nutrients  that  remained  inside  the  cells  in  raw  cauliflower  but 
got  released  from  those  cells  during  cooking  due  to  the  breakdown  of  cell  walls.  For  example,  we've  seen  studies  showing 
increased  bioavailability  of  the  carotenoids  lutein  and  zeaxanthin  following  the  cooking  of  cauliflower.  Of  course,  since  the 
chewing  of  raw  cauliflower  could  also  serve  to  break  down  cell  walls  and  make  carotenoids  more  bioavailable,  what  we  end  up 
with  here  is  a "win-win"  situation  in  which  both  raw  and  cooked  cauliflower  can  make  great  nutrient  contributions  to  our 
health. 

This  same  "win-win"  situation  appears  to  hold  true  for  cauliflower's  sulfur-containing  compounds.  For  example,  studies  have 
shown  that  levels  of  sinigrin — one  of  the  best-studied  glucosinolates  in  cauliflower — decrease  as  a result  of  both  steaming  and 
boiling.  However,  alongside  of  this  decrease  in  sinigrin  is  significantly  improved  bioavailability  of  the  sinigrin  that  still 
remains  inside  the  cooked  cauliflower. 

One  final  note  on  temperature  and  the  health  benefits  of  cauliflower.  A recent  study  on  the  freezing  of  cauliflower  has  shown 
its  nutrients  to  be  fairly  stable  after  one-year  freezer  storage.  Cauliflower  in  the  study  was  blanched  in  near-boiling  water  for 
three  minutes  prior  to  freezing  for  one  year.  Numerous  phytonutrients  were  evaluated  in  the  study,  including  cauliflower's 
sulfur-containing  compounds.  While  nutrients  levels  were  typically  reduced  after  this  year  of  freezer  storage,  loss  of  nutrients 
typically  averaged  about  15-35%.  Although  we  strongly  support  purchase  of  fresh  vegetables — including  cauliflower — 
whenever  possible,  frozen  cauliflower  may  make  a second-best  option  in  some  meal  plans. 

Description 

While  many  people  recognize  cauliflower  as  a member  of  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family,  this  popular  plant  is  more  closely 
connected  with  its  fellow  "crucifers"  than  people  might  realize.  Cauliflower,  cabbage,  collard  greens,  kale,  Brussels  sprouts, 
and  broccoli  all  belong  to  the  same  genus  and  species  of  plant  ( Brassica  oleracea)  and  this  degree  of  commonality  among 
popular  plant  foods  is  somewhat  usual.  While  the  traditional  family  name  for  this  group  of  foods  is  "cruciferous  vegetables," 
many  scientists  are  tending  away  from  the  science  name  Crucifereae  for  this  plant  family  and  more  toward  the  name 
Brassicaceae.  So  you  will  also  hear  cauliflower  being  referred  to  as  not  only  a "cruciferous"  vegetable  but  a "brassica" 
vegetable  as  well.  (In  Latin,  the  word  "brassica"  means  "cabbage.") 

In  the  U.S.,  most  cauliflower  varieties  have  been  selected  for  their  formation  of  a fairly  large  compact  head  (which  is  also 
called  the  "curd").  The  cauliflower  head  is  actually  a closely  packed  arrangement  of  undeveloped  flower  buds.  Surrounding  the 
curd  are  ribbed,  coarse  green  leaves  that  help  shield  this  part  of  the  plant  from  sunlight.  This  shielding  of  the  cauliflower  head 
also  discourages  the  development  of  chlorophyll  in  the  head  and  is  one  of  the  reasons  that  this  portion  of  the  plant  is  typically 
not  bright  green  in  color.  (That  being  said,  there  are  green  varieties  of  cauliflower  available  in  the  marketplace.)  The  raw 
cauliflower  head  tends  to  be  firm  but  slightly  spongy  in  texture  and  can  have  a slightly  sulfur-like  flavor,  which  some  people 
also  describe  as  faintly  bitter.  However,  it  is  also  common  for  people  to  describe  the  cauliflower  flavor  as  nutty  and  slightly 
sweet. 

Cauliflower  and  broccoli  are  so  closely  related  that  some  naturally  occurring  varieties  of  cauliflower  are  often  referred  to  by 
both  names.  Romanesco  cauliflower — also  called  romanesco  broccoli — is  a perfect  example.  This  variety  of  Brassica  oleracea 
has  a flavor  somewhere  in  between  cauliflower  and  broccoli  and  a highly  distinct  appearance  in  which  the  compact  cauliflower 
head  rises  upward  in  a tree-like  or  pyramidal  shape.  Romanesco  cauliflower  is  also  sometimes  referred  to  as  broccoflower,  but 
this  name  is  more  commonly  used  to  refer  to  yet  different  cultivars  of  cauliflower  with  a green  head  (or  curd).  As  you  can  see, 
it  is  sometimes  difficult  to  clearly  differentiate  between  cauliflower  and  broccoli  due  to  the  strong  biological  overlap  between 
these  foods.  It's  also  interesting  to  note  that  in  most  market  analyses  of  broccoli  imports  and  exports,  the  two  foods  are  grouped 
together  into  a single  category. 

Types  of  Cauliflower 

Color  can  be  a very  practical  way  of  separating  different  varieties  of  cauliflower  into  basic  types.  The  chart  below  shows  basic 
color  groupings  for  cauliflower  and  specific  varieties  that  belong  to  each  group. 


White 

Green 

Purple 

Orange 

Snow  Cloud 

Emeraude 

Graffiti 

Cheddar 

Snowball 

Vitaverde 

Violetta 

Orange  Burst 

Cloud 

Green  Macerata 

Purple  of  Sicily 

Sunset 

Aviso 

Monte  Verde 

Mulberry 

History 

Cauliflower  is  generally  thought  to  be  native  to  the  general  Mediterranean  region,  especially  the  northeastern  portion  of  this 
region  in  what  is  now  the  country  of  Turkey.  Its  history  here  dates  back  over  2,000  years.  It's  interesting  to  note  that  varieties 
of  cauliflower  were  not  always  selected  to  include  a large,  compact  head  (or  "curd")  and  that  in  many  regions  of  the  world, 
cauliflower  crops  still  do  not  focus  on  those  varieties.  "Loose  curd"  cauliflower,  for  example,  is  widely  enjoyed  in  many  areas 
of  China.  Roughly  speaking,  "loose  curd"  cauliflower  can  be  considered  as  comparable  to  broccoli  raab — a form  of  broccoli 
that  also  lacks  a large  compact  head  and  features  longer  stems  and  leaves. 

Among  cruciferous  vegetables  in  general,  cauliflower  is  not  nearly  as  popular  in  the  U.S.  as  in  other  parts  of  the  world.  While 
the  U.S.  is  the  world's  largest  producer  of  broccoli,  when  it  comes  to  cauliflower,  it  is  not  remotely  close  to  China  or  India, 
which  produce  74%  of  the  world's  cauliflower.  Given  the  remarkable  nutritional  benefits  of  cauliflower,  we  hope  that  this 
pattern  will  change  over  time  and  the  cauliflower  will  become  a more  widely  enjoyed  cruciferous  vegetable. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

When  purchasing  cauliflower,  look  for  a clean,  creamy  white,  compact  curd  in  which  the  bud  clusters  are  not  separated. 

Spotted  or  dull-colored  cauliflower  should  be  avoided,  as  well  as  those  in  which  small  flowers  appear. 

Heads  that  are  surrounded  by  many  thick  green  leaves  are  better  protected  and  will  be  fresher.  As  its  size  is  not  related  to  its 
quality,  choose  one  that  best  suits  your  needs. 

Store  uncooked  cauliflower  in  a paper  or  plastic  bag  in  the  refrigerator  where  it  will  keep  for  up  to  a week.  To  prevent  moisture 
from  developing  in  the  floret  clusters,  store  it  with  the  stem  side  down.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  cauliflower — for  example,  its 
vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

If  you  purchase  pre-cut  cauliflower  florets,  consume  them  within  one  or  two  days  as  they  will  lose  their  freshness  after  that. 
Since  cooking  causes  cauliflower  to  spoil  quicker,  consume  it  within  two  to  three  days  of  placing  in  the  refrigerator  after 
cooking. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

Puree  cooked  cauliflower,  add  fennel  seeds  and  your  other  favorite  herbs  and  spices  and  serve  as  soup. 

Because  of  its  shape  and  taste,  cauliflower  florets  make  wonderful  erudite  for  dipping  in  sauces. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Cauliflower 

• Poached  Halibut  with  Fennel  and  Cauliflower 

• 5-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Cauliflower 

• Asian  Sauteed  Cauliflower 

Safety 

Cauliflower  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  cauliflower  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is  "goitrogenic." 
For  helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What  is  meant  bv  the 


term  "goitroaen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 


Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Cauliflower,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  29 

124.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  C 

54.93  mg 

73 

46.2 

excellent 

vitamin  K 

17.11  meg 

19 

12.0 

excellent 

folate 

54.56  meg 

14 

8.6 

excellent 

oantothenic  acid 

0.63  mg 

13 

8.0 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.21  mg 

12 

7.8 

excellent 

choline 

48.48  mg 

11 

7.2 

very  good 

fiber 

2.68  g 

11 

6.8 

very  good 

omeea-3  fats 

0.21  g 

9 

5.5 

very  good 

manganese 

0. 1 6 mg 

8 

5.0 

very  good 

nhosphorus 

39.68  mg 

6 

3.6 

very  good 

biotin 

1.61  meg 

5 

3.4 

very  good 

notassium 

176.08  mg 

5 

3.2 

good 

vitamin  B2 

0.06  mg 

5 

2.9 

good 

nrotein 

2.28  g 

5 

2.9 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.05  mg 

4 

2.6 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.51  mg 

3 

2.0 

good 

magnesium 

11.16  mg 

3 

1.8 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Ambrosone  CB  and  Tang  L.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and  cancer  prevention:  role  of  nutrigenetics.  Cancer  Prev  Res 
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• Cabello-Hurtado  F,  Gicquel  M,  and  Esnault  MA.Evaluation  of  the  antioxidant  potential  of  cauliflower  (Brassica 
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1009. 

• dos  Reis  CR,  de  Oliveira  VR,  Hagen  MEK,  et  al.  Carotenoids,  flavonoids,  chlorophylls,  phenolic  compounds  and 
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Alphina  FI).  LWT  - Food  Science  and  Technology,  Volume  63,  Issue  1,  September  2015,  Pages  177-183. 


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system.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  172,  1 April  2015,  Pages  770-777. 

• Fowke  JH,  Morrow  JD,  Motley  S,  et  al.  Brassica  vegetable  consumption  reduces  urinary  F2-isoprostane  levels 
independent  of  micronutrient  intake.  Carcinogenesis,  October  1,  2006;  27(10):  2096  - 2102.  2006. 

• Girgin  N and  El  SN.  Effects  of  cooking  on  in  vitro  sinigrin  bioaccessibility,  total  phenols,  antioxidant  and  antimutagenic 
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February  2015,  Pages  119-127. 

• Higdon  JV,  Delage  B,  Williams  DE,  et  al.  Cruciferous  Vegetables  and  Human  Cancer  Risk:  Epidemiologic  Evidence  and 
Mechanistic  Basis.  Pharmacol  Res.  2007  March;  55(3):  224-236. 

• International  Agency  for  Research  on  Cancer  (IARC).  (2009).  IARC  Handbooks  of  Cancer  Prevention  Volume  9: 
Cruciferous  vegetables,  isothiocyanates  and  indoles.  Lyon,  France. 

• Kahlon  TS,  Chiu  MCM,  and  Chapman  MH.  Steam  cooking  significantly  improves  in  vitro  bile  acid  binding  of  beets, 
eggplant,  asparagus,  carrots,  green  beans,  and  cauliflower.  Nutrition  Research,  Volume  27,  Issue  12,  December  2007, 
Pages  750-755. 

• Kapusta-Duch  J,  Kusznierewicz  B,  Leszczyn'ska  T,  et  al.  Effect  of  cooking  on  the  contents  of  glucosinolates  and  their 
degradation  products  in  selected  Brassica  vegetables.  Journal  of  Functional  Foods,  2016,  23,  pages  412-422. 

• Larsson  SC,  Andersson  SO,  Johansson  JE,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  consumption  and  risk  of  bladder  cancer:  a 
prospective  cohort  study.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2008  Sep;17(9):2519-22. 

• Li  WP  and  Huang  JC.  (2014).  Analysis  about  Present  Status  of  Global  Cauliflower  Production  and  Its  Trade[J]  1(9):  5- 

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• Mahfouz  EM,  Sadek  RR,  Abdel-Latief  WM,  et  al.  The  role  of  dietary  and  lifestyle  factors  in  the  development  of 
colorectal  cancer:  case  control  study  in  Minia,  Egypt.  Cent  Eur  J Public  Health.  2014  Dec;22(4):215-22. 

• Manchali  S,  Murthy  KNC,  and  Patil  BS.  Crucial  facts  about  health  benefits  of  popular  cruciferous  vegetables.  Journal  of 
Functional  Foods,  Volume  4,  Issue  1,  January  2012,  Pages  94-106. 

• Nettleton  JA,  Steffen  LM,  Mayer-Davis  EJ,  et  al.  Dietary  patterns  are  associated  with  biochemical  markers  of 
inflammation  and  endothelial  activation  in  the  Multi-Ethnic  Study  of  Atherosclerosis  (MESA).  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006 
Jun;83(6):  1369-79. 

• Picchi  V,  Migliori  C,  Scalzo  RL,  et  al.  Phytochemical  content  in  organic  and  conventionally  grown  Italian  cauliflower. 
Food  Chemistry,  Volume  130,  Issue  3,  1 February  2012,  Pages  501-509. 

• Rungapamestry  V,  Duncan  AJ,  Fuller  Z et  al.  Effect  of  cooking  brassica  vegetables  on  the  subsequent  hydrolysis  and 
metabolic  fate  of  glucosinolates.  Proc  Nutr  Soc.  2007  Feb;66(l):69-81. 

• Steinbrecher  A and  Linseisen  J.  Dietary  Intake  of  Individual  Glucosinolates  in  Participants  of  the  EPIC-Heidelberg 
Cohort  Study.  Ann  Nutr  Metab  2009;54:87-96. 

• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Guru  K,  et  al.  Consumption  of  Raw  Cruciferous  Vegetables  is  Inversely  Associated  with  Bladder 
Cancer  Risk.  2007  Apr  15;67(8):3569-73. 

• Tang  L,  Paonessa  JD,  Zhang  Y,  et  al.  Total  isothiocyanate  yield  from  raw  cruciferous  vegetables  commonly  consumed  in 
the  United  States.  Journal  of  Functional  Foods,  Volume  5,  Issue  4,  October  2013,  Pages  1996-2001. 

• Volden  J,  Bengtsson  GB,  and  Wicklund  T.  Glucosinolates,  1-ascorbic  acid,  total  phenols,  anthocyanins,  antioxidant 
capacities  and  colour  in  cauliflower  (Brassica  oleracea  L.  ssp.  botrytis);  effects  of  long-term  freezer  storage.  Food 
Chemistry,  Volume  112,  Issue  4,  15  February  2009,  Pages  967-976. 

• Volden  J,  Borge  GIA,  Hansen  M,  et  al.  Processing  (blanching,  boiling,  steaming)  effects  on  the  content  of  glucosinolates 
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• Wang  J,  Zhao  Z,  Sheng  X,  et  al.  Influence  of  leaf-cover  on  visual  quality  and  health-promoting  phytochemicals  in  loose- 
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Celery 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Celery 

• If  you  have  become  accustomed  to  thinking  about  celery  as  a crunchy,  low-cal  vegetable  but  not  a key  part  of  your 
health  support,  it  is  time  to  think  again.  Recent  research  has  greatly  bolstered  our  knowledge  about  celery's  anti- 
inflammatory health  benefits,  including  its  protection  against  inflammation  in  the  digestive  tract  itself.  Some  of  the 
unique  non-starch  polysaccharides  in  celery — including  apiuman — appear  especially  important  in  producing  these  anti- 
inflammatory benefits.  (Unlike  starchy  polysaccharides  that  provide  plants  with  a way  to  store  simple  sugars,  these  non- 
starch polysaccharides  in  celery  help  provide  this  vegetable  with  its  unique  structure  and  are  not  made  from  simple 
sugars  but  rather  from  pectins.) 

• In  addition  to  well-known  antioxidants  like  vitamin  C and  flavonoids,  scientists  have  now  identified  at  least  a dozen 
other  types  of  antioxidant  nutrients  in  celery.  These  antioxidants  include  dihydrostilbenoids  like  lunularin  as  well  as 
furanocoumarins  like  bergapten  and  psoralen.  The  antioxidant  support  we  get  from  celery  is  largely  due  to  its  phenolic 
nutrients  that  have  been  shown  to  help  protect  us  against  unwanted  oxidative  damage  to  our  cells,  blood  vessels,  and 
organ  systems 

• If  you  are  planning  to  steam  vegetables  as  part  of  your  meal,  you  can  include  celery  without  having  to  worry  about 
excessive  loss  of  its  phenol-based  antioxidants.  In  a recent  study,  researchers  compared  the  impact  of  steaming  (10 
minutes)  versus  boiling  (10  minutes)  versus  blanching  (3  minute  submersion  in  boiling  water)  on  the  total  phenolic 
antioxidant  nutrients  in  celery.  Both  boiling  and  blanching  resulted  in  substantial  loss  of  these  antioxidants,  in  the  range 
of  38-41%.  With  steaming,  however,  83-99%  of  these  antioxidants  were  retained  in  the  celery  even  after  10  minutes. 
While  we  encourage  the  practice  of  steaming  as  a cooking  method  of  choice  for  many  of  our  WHFoods  vegetables,  it's 
great  to  see  how  nutrient-preserving  steaming  can  be  in  the  case  of  celery. 

• Based  on  multiple  recent  studies  involving  nutrient  changes  in  stored,  refrigerated  celery,  we  recommend  a period  of  5-7 
days  as  a window  of  time  for  consuming  fresh  celery.  While  some  nutrients  appear  to  be  stable  in  whole,  refrigerated 
celery  for  longer  periods  of  time,  several  studies  show  greater  losses  of  phenolic  antioxidants  in  celery  after  this  week- 
long  period.  In  addition,  based  on  changes  in  flavonoid  content,  we  also  recommend  that  you  wait  to  chop  up  your  celery 
just  before  you  are  adding  it  to  a salad  or  cooked  dish  (rather  than  chopping  it  up  the  night  before  and  leaving  it  stored  in 
the  refrigerator  overnight).  This  will  help  to  preserve  its  maximum  nutrient  potential. 


Calories:  16 

GI:  very  low 


DRI/DV 


Celery,  diced,  raw 
1.00  cup 
(101.00  grams) 


Nutrient 


vitamin  K 

33% 

molybdenum 

11% 

folate 

9% 

potassium 

8% 

fiber 

6% 

manganese 

5% 

vitamin  B2 

5% 

pantothenic  acid 

5% 

copper 

4% 

calcium 

4% 

vitamin  C 

4% 

vitamin  B6 

4% 

phosphorus 

3% 

magnesium 

3% 

vitamin  A 

3% 

Health  Benefits 

Antioxidant  and  Anti-Inflammatory  Support 


Celery  is  an  important  food  source  of  conventional  antioxidant  nutrients,  including  vitamin  C,  beta-carotene,  and  manganese. 
But  its  "claim  to  fame"  in  terms  of  antioxidant  nutrients  may  very  well  be  its  phytonutrients.  Many  of  these  phytonutrients  fall 


into  the  category  of  phenolic  antioxidants  and  have  been  shown  to  provide  anti-inflammatory  benefits  as  well.  Below  is  a 
representative  list  of  the  phenolic  antioxidants  found  in  celery. 

• Phenolic  acids 

o caffeic  acid 
o caffeolyquinic  acid 
o cinnamic  acid 
o coumaric  acid 
o ferulic  acid 

• Flavones 

o apigenin 
o luteolin 

• Flavonols 

o quercetin 
o kaempferol 

• Dihydrostilbenoids 

o lunularin 

• Phytosterols 

° beta-sitosterol 

• Furanocoumarins 

o bergapten 
o psoralen 

In  animal  studies,  celery  extracts  containing  the  above-listed  phytonutrients  have  been  shown  to  decrease  risk  of  oxidative 
damage  to  body  fats  and  risk  of  oxidative  damage  to  blood  vessel  walls.  In  addition,  these  celery  extracts  have  been  shown  to 
prevent  inflammatory  reactions  in  the  digestive  tract  and  blood  vessels.  Interestingly,  there  is  also  some  animal  research 
showing  the  ability  of  celery  extracts  to  help  protect  the  digestive  tract  and  liver  following  consumption  of  acrylamides. 
(Acrylamides  are  potentially  toxic  substances  formed  in  food  through  a reaction  of  sugars  and  amino  acids,  usually  through  the 
process  of  frying.) 

While  most  of  the  research  above  involves  animals  versus  humans,  we  have  also  seen  studies  showing  the  importance  of  celery 
in  diets  that  are  considered  to  be  high  in  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  health  benefits.  For  example,  we've  seen  one  recent 
study  showing  celery  to  provide  7%  of  all  flavonol  and  flavone  antioxidants  in  the  diet  of  adults  in  China.  In  addition, 
mechanisms  of  anti-inflammatory  support  have  also  been  shown  in  human  studies.  For  example,  we've  seen  research  showing 
the  ability  of  celery  juice  and  celery  extracts  to  lower  the  activity  of  tumor  necrosis  factor  alpha  (TNF-alpha),  as  well  as  the 
activity  of  nuclear  factor  kappa  B (NF-kB).  Decreased  levels  of  the  pro-inflammatory  cytokines  interleukin  IB  (IL-1B)  and 
interleukin  8 (IL-8)  have  also  been  seen  in  these  studies.  All  of  these  four  messaging  molecules  play  a key  role  in  the  body's 
inflammatory  responses,  and  keeping  them  in  check  is  an  important  step  in  the  prevention  of  unwanted  inflammation. 

One  interesting  aspect  of  celery's  antioxidant  phytonutrients  involves  its  furanocoumarins.  Prior  to  harvest  - when  celery  is  still 
growing  in  the  ground  - it  responds  to  stress  by  producing  furanocoumarins  in  greater  amounts.  These  substances  help  protect 
it  in  its  natural  living  conditions.  Even  after  celery  has  been  harvested,  however,  and  you  start  to  chop  it  up  on  your  kitchen 
countertop,  it  will  still  increase  its  production  of  furanocoumarins,  and  you  will  get  greater  amounts  of  these  phytonutrients  for 
this  reason.  (However,  it  is  incorrect  to  assume  that  the  chopping  of  celery  makes  it  nutritionally  "better"  than  it  was  before 
you  chopped  it.  That's  because  other  phytonutrients  decrease  simultaneously  with  the  increase  in  furanocoumarins.  The  net 
result  is  basically  a change  in  the  composition  of  the  celery  phytonutrients,  an  interesting  topic  about  which  we  hope  to  see 
more  research  on  in  the  future.) 

Digestive  Tract  Support 

In  addition  to  its  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  that  help  protect  the  digestive  tract  as  a whole,  celery  contains 
pectin-based  polysaccharides  that  can  provide  the  stomach  with  special  benefits.  We've  become  accustomed  to  thinking  about 
polysaccharides  as  starchy  molecules  that  are  used  by  cells  as  a way  to  store  up  simple  sugars.  But  there  are  other  types  of 
polysaccharides  in  plants,  including  the  non-starch,  pectin-based  polysaccharides  found  in  celery.  (Pectin  is  a sugar-related 
molecule  that  is  largely  formed  from  a substance  called  glucuronic  acid.)  The  pectin-based  polysaccharides  found  in  celery  — 
including  apiuman — appear  to  have  special  importance  in  producing  anti-inflammatory  benefits.  In  animal  studies,  celery 
extracts  containing  apiuman  have  been  shown  to  improve  the  integrity  of  the  stomach  lining,  decrease  risk  of  stomach  ulcer 
(gastric  ulcer),  and  better  control  the  levels  of  stomach  secretions.  We  look  forward  to  future  research  that  may  confirm  these 
stomach  support  benefits  in  humans  based  on  dietary  intake  of  celery  in  its  whole  food  form. 


Cardiovascular  Support 


Given  the  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  properties  of  celery  described  earlier  in  this  section,  it's  not  surprising  to  see  the 
interest  of  researchers  in  the  cardiovascular  benefits  of  celery.  Oxidative  stress  and  inflammation  in  the  bloodstream  are  critical 
problems  in  the  development  of  many  cardiovascular  diseases,  especially  atherosclerosis.  Unfortunately,  most  of  the  studies 
we've  seen  in  this  area  have  involved  animals.  Still,  we've  seen  promising  connections  between  the  pectin-based 
polysaccharides  in  celery  and  decreased  risk  of  inflammation  in  the  cardiovascular  system.  We've  seen  these  same  types  of 
connections  between  celery  flavonoids  and  decreased  risk  of  cardiovascular  inflammation. 

Phthalides  are  a further  category  of  phytonutrients  found  in  celery  that  seems  important  to  mention  as  providing  potential 
cardiovascular  benefits.  Phenolic  substances  found  in  celery,  phthalides  are  a major  contributor  to  the  unique  flavor  of  this 
vegetable.  (Sedanenolide  and  butylphthalides  are  examples  of  phthalides  found  in  celery.)  Researchers  have  demonstrated  that 
celery  phthalides  can  act  as  smooth  muscle  relaxants,  most  likely  through  their  impact  on  the  flow  of  calcium  and  potassium 
inside  cells  and  related  nervous  system  activity  involved  with  muscle  relaxation.  Of  course,  relaxation  of  smooth  muscles 
surrounding  our  blood  vessels  allows  them  to  expand  and  the  result  is  a lowering  of  our  blood  pressure.  (This  overall  process  is 
called  vasodilation.) 

Phthalides  in  celery  may  also  act  as  diuretics,  further  helping  to  lower  the  pressure  inside  our  blood  vessels.  Unfortunately, 
most  of  the  research  we've  seen  in  this  area  involves  celery  seeds,  celery  oil,  or  celery  extracts  - not  the  whole  food  itself.  So 
it's  not  yet  clear  if  these  muscle-relaxant  properties  and  blood  pressure-lowering  properties  of  celery  phthalides  will  be 
provided  to  us  if  we  include  celery  in  our  meal  plans  in  everyday  food  amounts.  But  we  will  be  surprised  if  future  research  on 
dietary  intake  of  celery  does  not  show  some  type  of  cardiovascular  benefit  directly  related  to  celery  phthalides. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

Because  chronic  oxidative  stress  and  excessive  inflammation  are  key  risk  factors  for  the  development  of  many  cancer  types, 
it's  not  surprising  to  see  scientists  interested  in  the  potential  benefits  of  celery  intake  for  cancer  prevention.  While  we've  seen 
speculation  about  celery  benefits  for  stomach  cancer,  colon  cancer,  and  bladder  cancer,  we've  been  unable  to  find  actual  human 
research  studies  in  any  of  these  areas.  Hopefully,  future  research  studies  will  address  the  potential  cancer-related  benefits  of 
celery  much  more  closely. 

Description 

In  most  U.S.  markets,  it's  the  Pascal  family  of  greenish  to  pale-green  celery  cultivars  that  we've  become  most  accustomed  to 
finding  in  the  produce  section.  Pascal  celery  is  larger  than  most  other  celery  types,  with  firm,  solid  stalks  and  leafy  ends.  Yet 
even  within  this  particular  scientific  type  of  celery  ( Apium  graveolens  var.  dulce),  there  are  many  other  options  including 
Matador,  Red  Stalk,  Tango,  and  Sonora.  Celery  actually  comes  in  a variety  of  colors  from  sheer  white  to  vibrant  gold  to  rich 
red  and  deep  green. 

In  this  genus/species  of  plant  ( Apium  graveolens)  are  also  found  two  other  important  types  of  celery.  The  first  is  celeriac  (also 
called  root  celery,  turnip-root  celery,  or  knob  celery).  Just  like  the  name  suggests,  root  celery  is  characterized  by  a large  root 
ball,  which  is  especially  prized  for  its  unique  somewhat  nut-like  taste.  (The  scientific  name  for  celeriac  is  Apium  graveolens 
var.  rapaceum.)  The  second  type  of  celery  is  leafy  celery  ( Apium  graveolens  var.  secalinum),  which  looks  very  similar  to 
parsley  but  tastes  like  celery!  Root  and  leaf  celeries  are  valued  worldwide  for  their  unique  flavors  and  aromas;  they  are  often 
"main  plate"  vegetables  rather  than  salad  or  soup  additions. 

Regardless  of  which  celery  variety  you  choose  to  buy  or  grow,  there  are  nutrient  benefits  to  be  found  in  all  parts  of  the  plant, 
including  the  leaves,  stalks,  roots,  and  seeds.  "Celery  hearts"  usually  refers  to  the  innermost  stalks  of  Pascal  celery.  These 
stalks  are  typically  the  most  tender. 

The  bigger  family  of  plants  that  houses  celery  is  what  scientists  call  the  Apiaceae  or  Umbelliferae  family.  It  is  also  commonly 
known  as  the  parsley  or  carrot  family.  (Just  compare  leafy  carrot  tops  or  parsley  leaves  with  celery  leaves  and  you'll  see  why.) 
In  addition  to  celery,  carrots,  and  parsley,  this  plant  family  also  includes  dill,  fennel,  cilantro/coriander,  parsnip,  anise,  caraway, 
chervil,  cumin,  angelica,  and  asafetida. 

History 

Over  time,  many  different  types  of  plants  across  the  world  have  been  referred  to  by  the  common  name  "wild  celery."  Most  of 
these  plants — although  not  all  of  them — belong  to  the  same  family  ( Apiaceae/Umbellerifereae ) as  the  Pascal  celery  found  in 


U.S.  markets.  You'll  find  Australian  celery,  Vietnamese  celery,  Indian  celery,  Maori  celery,  and  water  celery  all  being  referred 
to  as  "wild  celery"  in  various  cultures. 

The  direct  ancestors  of  Pascal  celery  were  cultivated  in  parts  of  Europe  and  the  Mediterranean  as  early  as  1000  BC,  and  we 
have  evidence  of  celery  being  used  as  a medicinal  plant  in  ancient  Egypt.  There's  also  evidence  that  ancient  Greek  athletes 
were  awarded  celery  leaves  to  commemorate  their  winning. 

Today  over  1 billion  pounds  of  celery  are  produced  each  year  in  the  United  States,  with  California,  Michigan  and  Florida 
accounting  for  about  80%  of  all  celery  production.  The  average  U.S.  adult  eats  about  6 pounds  of  celery  per  year.  A substantial 
amount  of  celery  in  the  U.S.  comes  from  Mexico,  and  the  U.S.  exports  about  200  million  pounds  of  celery  to  Canada  each 
year. 

On  a worldwide  basis,  celery  is  often  served  as  a "major  plate  vegetable"  rather  than  an  additive  to  salads  or  soups.  In  addition, 
root  celery  varieties  of  this  food  (chosen  for  their  large  root  balls  rather  then  their  stalks)  are  often  cultivated  over  the  large 
stalk  Pascal  varieties  that  have  become  most  popular  in  the  U.S. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  celery  that  looks  crisp  and  snaps  easily  when  pulled  apart.  It  should  be  relatively  tight  and  compact  and  not  have  stalks 
that  splay  out.  The  leaves  should  be  pale  to  bright  green  in  color  and  free  from  yellow  or  brown  patches.  Sometimes  celery  can 
have  a condition  called  "blackheart"  that  is  caused  by  insects.  To  check  for  damage,  separate  the  stalks  and  look  for  brown  or 
black  discoloration.  In  addition,  evaluate  the  celery  to  ensure  that  it  does  not  have  a seed  stem,  the  presence  of  a round  stem  in 
the  place  of  the  smaller  tender  stalks  that  should  reside  in  the  center  of  the  celery.  Celery  with  seed  stems  are  often  more  bitter 
in  flavor. 

Most  people  use  plastic  produce  bags  to  bring  celery  (and  other  fresh  vegetables)  home  from  the  market.  If  this  method  is  the 
one  you  use,  you  can  leave  your  celery  in  the  plastic  produce  bag,  squeeze  out  any  extra  air,  and  close  the  bag  securely  for 
storage  in  your  refrigerator.  While  food  storage  in  plastic  bags  can  create  health  risks  under  certain  circumstances,  5-7  days  of 
refrigerator  storage  for  an  uncut  head  of  celery  is  not  one  of  them.  The  refrigerator  temperature  is  too  cold  (about  40°F/4°C), 
the  time  period  too  short,  and  the  celery-to-plastic  surface  contact  too  moderate  to  create  a substantial  health  risk  from  this  use 
of  a plastic  produce  bag.  If  possible,  please  recycle  the  plastic  bag  after  using. 

We  recommend  a period  of  5-7  days  as  a window  of  time  for  refrigeration  of  fresh  celery.  While  some  nutrients  appear  to  be 
stable  in  whole,  refrigerated  celery  for  longer  periods  of  time,  several  studies  show  greater  losses  of  phenolic  antioxidants  in 
celery  after  this  week-long  period.  In  addition,  based  on  changes  in  flavonoid  content,  we  also  recommend  that  you  wait  to 
chop  up  your  celery  just  before  you  are  adding  it  to  a salad  or  cooked  dish  (rather  than  chopping  it  up  the  night  before  and 
leaving  it  stored  in  the  refrigerator  overnight).  If  you  find  yourself  needing  to  cut  up  celery  far  ahead  of  time,  in  a way  that 
requires  overnight  storage  in  your  refrigerator,  we  recommend  that  you  place  the  cut  celery  into  a hard  plastic  or  glass 
container  instead  of  a soft  plastic  bag.  Since  the  cutting  of  celery  will  expose  more  of  its  surface  area,  you  can  avoid  increased 
contact  of  more  celery  surfaces  to  the  less  stable  materials  that  are  found  in  soft  plastic  bags  by  using  more  sturdy  containers 
for  your  cut  celery.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  celery — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through 
refrigeration. 

Freezing  will  make  celery  wilt  and  should  be  avoided  unless  you  will  be  using  it  in  a future  cooked  recipe. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Add  chopped  celery  to  your  favorite  tuna  fish  or  chicken  salad  recipe. 

• Enjoy  the  delicious  tradition  of  eating  peanut  butter  on  celery  stalks. 

• Use  celery  leaves  in  salads. 

• Braise  chopped  celery,  radicchio  and  onions  and  serve  topped  with  walnuts  and  your  favorite  soft  cheese. 

• Next  time  you  are  making  fresh  squeezed  carrot  juice  give  it  a unique  taste  dimension  by  adding  some  celery  to  it. 

• Add  celery  leaves  and  sliced  celery  stalks  to  soups,  stews,  casseroles,  and  Healthy  Stir-Fries. 

• Consider  the  purchase  of  celery  in  its  non-Pascal  varieties.  Root  celery  can  be  served  as  a major  plate  vegetable  all  its 
own,  and  leaf  celery  can  be  substituted  for  parsley  in  almost  any  recipe. 


For  some  of  our  favorite  recipes,  click  Recipes. 


Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 


Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Celery,  diced,  raw 

1.00  cup  Calories:  16 

101.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

29.59  meg 

33 

36.6 

excellent 

molybdenum 

5.05  meg 

11 

12.5 

excellent 

folate 

36.36  meg 

9 

10.1 

very  good 

DOtassium 

262.60  mg 

8 

8.4 

very  good 

fiber 

1.40  g 

6 

6.2 

very  good 

maneanese 

0.10  mg 

5 

5.6 

very  good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.25  mg 

5 

5.6 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.06  mg 

5 

5.1 

good 

coDoer 

0.04  mg 

4 

5.0 

good 

vitamin  C 

3.13  mg 

4 

4.6 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.07  mg 

4 

4.6 

good 

calcium 

40.40  mg 

4 

4.5 

good 

nhosphoms 

24.24  mg 

3 

3.9 

good 

maenesium 

11.11  mg 

3 

3.1 

good 

vitamin  A 

22.67  meg  RAE 

3 

2.8 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Al-Howiriny  T,  Alsheikh  A,  Alqasoumi  S et  al.  Gastric  antiulcer,  antisecretory  and  cytoprotective  properties  of  celery 
(Apium  graveolens)  in  rats.  Pharm  Biol.  2010  Jul;48(7):786-93. 

• Hostetler  G,  Riedl  K,  Cardenas  H et  al.  Flavone  deglycosylation  increases  their  anti-inflammatory  activity  and 
absorption.  Mol  Nutr  Food  Res.  2012  Apr;56(4):558-69.  doi:  10.1002/mnff.201100596.  Epub  2012  Feb  20. 

• Hostetler  GL,  Riedl  KM,  and  Schwartz  SJ.  Endogenous  enzymes,  heat,  and  pH  affect  flavone  profiles  in  parsley 
(Petroselinum  crispum  var.  neapolitanum)  and  celery  (Apium  graveolens)  during  juice  processing.  J Agric  Food  Chem. 
2012  Jan  11  ;60(l):202-8.  Epub  2011  Dec  30. 

• Kolarovic  J,  Popovic  M,  Zlinska  J et  al.  Antioxidant  activities  of  celery  and  parsley  juices  in  rats  treated  with 
doxorubicin.  Molecules.  2010  Sep  3;  1 5(9):6 1 93-204. 


• Ovodova  RG,  Golovchenko  VV,  Popov  SV  et  al.  Chemical  composition  and  anti-inflammatory  activity  of  pectic 
polysaccharide  isolated  from  celery  stalks.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  114,  Issue  2,  15  May  2009,  Pages  610-615. 

• Page  V and  Schwitzguebel  JP.  Metabolism  of  sulphonated  anthraquinones  in  rhubarb,  maize  and  celery:  the  role  of 
cytochromes  P450  and  peroxidases.  Plant  Cell  Rep.  2009  Nov;28(ll):1725-35.  Epub  2009  Sep  19. 

• Paglan  K,  Gotz-Zbikowska  M,  Tykwinska  M et  al.  Celery— cause  of  severe  anaphylactic  shock.  Postepy  Hig  Med  Dosw 
(Online).  2012  Mar  14;66:132-4. 

• Prisacaru  Al,  Andritoiu  CV,  Priscaru  C et  al.  Protective  effect  of  phthalides  from  apium  graveolens  in  acrylamide 
intoxication.  European  Journal  of  Internal  Medicine,  Volume  22,  Supplement  1,  October  2011,  Page  S77. 

• Rizzo  V and  Muratore  G.  Effects  of  packaging  on  shelf  life  of  fresh  celery.  Journal  of  Food  Engineering,  Volume  90, 
Issue  1,  January  2009,  Pages  124-128. 

• Shiraga  T.  PI  04  specific  inhibitory  effect  of  celery  extract  on  peptide  transporter  PEPT1  expression  in  the  human 
intestinal  caco-2  cells.  Clinical  Nutrition  Supplements,  Volume  4,  Issue  2,  2009,  Page  69. 

• Tsi  D and  Tan  BKH.  The  mechanism  underlying  the  hypocholesterolaemic  activity  of  aqueous  celery  extract,  its  butanol 
and  aqueous  fractions  in  genetically  hypercholesterolaemic  rico  rats.  Life  Sciences,  Volume  66,  Issue  8,  14  January 
2000,  Pages  755-767. 

• Vina  SZ  and  Chaves  AR.  Respiratory  activity  and  phenolic  compounds  in  pre-cut  celery.  Food  Chemistry,  Volume  100, 
Issue  4,  2007,  Pages  1654-1660. 

• Vina  SZ  and  Chaves  AR.  Antioxidant  responses  in  minimally  processed  celery  during  refrigerated  storage.  Food 
Chemistry,  Volume  94,  Issue  1,  January  2006,  Pages  68-74. 

• Yao  Y and  Ren  G.  Effect  of  thermal  treatment  on  phenolic  composition  and  antioxidant  activities  of  two  celery  cultivars. 
LWT  - Food  Science  and  Technology,  Volume  44,  Issue  1,  January  2011,  Pages  181-185. 

• Yao  Y,  Sang  W,  Zhou  M et  al.  Phenolic  composition  and  antioxidant  activities  of  11  celery  cultivars.  J Food  Sci.  2010 
Jan-Feb;75(l):C9-13. 

• Zhang  Y,  Li  Y,  Cao  C et  al.  Dietary  flavonol  and  flavone  intakes  and  their  major  food  sources  in  Chinese  adults.  Nutr 
Cancer.  2010;62(8):  1 120-7. 

• Zhou  K,  Wu  B,  Zhuang  Y,  Ding  L et  al.  [Chemical  constituents  of  fresh  celery],  Zhongguo  Zhong  Yao  Za  Zhi.  2009 
Jun;34(12):1512-5.  Chinese. 

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Collard  greens 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Collard  Greens 

• The  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  collard  greens  may  be  the  greatest  of  all  commonly  eaten  cruciferous  vegetables.  In  a 
recent  study,  steamed  collard  greens  outshined  steamed  kale,  mustard  greens,  broccoli,  Brussels  sprouts,  and  cabbage  in 
terms  of  its  ability  to  bind  bile  acids  in  the  digestive  tract.  When  this  bile  acid  binding  takes  place,  it  is  easier  for  the  bile 
acids  to  be  excreted  from  the  body.  Since  bile  acids  are  made  from  cholesterol,  the  net  impact  of  this  bile  acid  binding  is 
a lowering  of  the  body's  cholesterol  level.  It's  worth  noting  that  steamed  collards  show  much  greater  bile  acid  binding 
ability  than  raw  collards. 

• We  get  unique  health  benefits  from  collard  greens  in  the  form  of  cancer  protection.  The  cancer-preventive  properties  of 
collard  greens  may  be  largely  related  to  4 specific  glucosinolates  found  in  this  cruciferous  vegetable:  glucoraphanin, 
sinigrin,  gluconasturtiian,  and  glucotropaeolin.  Each  of  these  glucosinolates  can  be  converted  into  an  isothiocyanate 
(ITC)  that  helps  lower  our  cancer  risk  by  supporting  our  detox  and  anti-inflammatory  systems. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  collard  greens  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  we  recommend  3/4  cup  of  cruciferous 
vegetables  on  a daily  basis.  This  amount  is  equivalent  to  approximately  5 cups  per  week.  A more  optimal  intake  amount  would 
be  1-1/2  cups  per  day,  or  about  10  cups  per  week.  You  can  use  our  Veggie  Advisor  for  help  in  figuring  out  your  best 
cruciferous  vegetable  options. 

It  is  very  important  not  to  overcook  collard  greens.  Like  other  cruciferous  vegetables  overcooked  collard  greens  will  begin  to 
emit  the  unpleasant  sulfur  smell  associated  with  overcooking.  To  help  collard  greens  to  cook  more  quickly,  evenly  slice  the 
leaves  into  1/2-inch  slices  and  the  stems  into  1/4-inch  pieces.  Let  them  sit  for  at  least  5 minutes  to  bring  out  the  health- 
promoting  qualities  and  steam  for  5 minutes.  Serve  with  our  Mediterranean  Dressing.  See  5-Minute  Collard  Greens. 


Collard  Greens,  chopped,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(190.00  grams) 

Calories:  63 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

858% 

vitamin  A 

80% 

manganese 

49% 

vitamin  C 

46% 

fiber 

30% 

calcium 

27% 

choline 

17% 

vitamin  B2 

15% 

■ 

vitamin  B6 

14% 

1 

iron 

12% 

copper 

11% 

vitamin  E 

11% 

magnesium 

10% 

protein 

10% 

phosphorus 

9% 

omega-3  fats 

8% 

folate 

8% 

nantothenic  acid 

8% 

vitamin  B3 

7% 

vitamin  B 1 

7% 

potassium 

6% 

Health  Benefits 


Unlike  broccoli  and  kale  and  cabbage,  you  won't  find  many  research  studies  devoted  to  the  specific  health  benefits  of  collard 
greens.  However,  collard  greens  are  sometimes  included  in  a longer  list  of  cruciferous  vegetables  that  are  lumped  together  and 
examined  for  the  health  benefits  they  provide.  Based  on  a very  small  number  of  studies  looking  specifically  at  collard  greens, 
and  a larger  number  of  studies  looking  at  cruciferous  vegetables  as  a group  (and  including  collard  greens  on  the  list  of 
vegetables  studied),  cancer  prevention  appears  to  be  a standout  area  for  collard  greens  with  respect  to  their  health  benefits. 

This  connection  between  collard  greens  and  cancer  prevention  should  not  be  surprising  since  collard  greens  provide  special 
nutrient  support  for  three  body  systems  that  are  closely  connected  with  cancer  development  as  well  as  cancer  prevention. 

These  three  systems  are  (1)  the  body's  detox  system,  (2)  its  antioxidant  system,  and  (3)  its  inflammatory/anti-inflammatory 
system.  Chronic  imbalances  in  any  of  these  three  systems  can  increase  risk  of  cancer,  and  when  imbalances  in  all  three  systems 
occur  simultaneously,  the  risk  of  cancer  increases  significantly.  Among  all  types  of  cancer,  prevention  of  the  following  cancer 
types  is  most  closely  associated  with  intake  of  collard  greens:  bladder  cancer,  breast  cancer,  colon  cancer,  lung  cancer,  prostate 
cancer,  and  ovarian  cancer. 

Detox  Support  Provided  by  Collard  Greens 

The  detox  support  provided  by  collard  greens  includes  antioxidant  nutrients  to  boost  Phase  1 detoxification  activities  and 
sulfur-containing  nutrients  to  boost  Phase  2 activities.  Collard  greens  also  contain  phytonutrients  called  glucosinolates  that  can 
help  activate  detoxification  enzymes  and  regulate  their  activity.  Four  key  glucosinolates  that  have  been  clearly  identified  in 
collard  greens  in  significant  amounts  are  glucobrassicin,  glucoraphanin,  gluconasturtiian,  and  glucotropaeolin. 

If  we  fail  to  give  our  body's  detox  system  adequate  nutritional  support,  yet  continue  to  expose  ourselves  to  unwanted  toxins 
through  our  lifestyle  and  our  dietary  choices,  we  can  place  our  bodies  at  increased  risk  of  toxin-related  damage  that  can 
eventually  increase  our  cells'  risk  of  becoming  cancerous.  That's  one  of  the  reasons  it's  so  important  to  bring  collard  greens  and 
other  cruciferous  vegetables  into  our  diet  on  a regular  basis. 

The  Antioxidant  Benefits  of  Collard  Greens 

As  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  C,  vitamin  A (in  the  form  of  carotenoids),  and  manganese,  and  a good  source  of  vitamin  E, 
collard  greens  provide  us  with  4 core  conventional  antioxidants.  But  the  antioxidant  support  provided  by  collard  greens 
extends  far  beyond  the  conventional  nutrients  into  the  realm  of  phytonutrients.  Caffeic  acid,  ferulic  acid,  quercetin,  and 
kaempferol  are  among  the  key  antioxidant  phytonutrients  provided  by  collard  greens.  This  broad  spectrum  antioxidant  support 
helps  lower  the  risk  of  oxidative  stress  in  our  cells.  Chronic  oxidative  stress — meaning  chronic  presence  over  overly  reactive 
oxygen-containing  molecules  and  cumulative  damage  to  our  cells  by  these  molecules — is  a risk  factor  for  development  of  most 
cancer  types.  By  providing  us  with  such  a great  array  of  antioxidant  nutrients,  collard  greens  help  lower  our  cancer  risk  by 
helping  us  avoid  chronic  and  unwanted  oxidative  stress. 

Collard  Greens'  Anti-inflammatory  Benefits 

As  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  K and  a good  source  of  omega-3  fatty  acids  (in  the  form  of  alpha-linolenic  acid,  or  ALA), 
collard  greens  provide  us  with  two  hallmark  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  Vitamin  K acts  as  a direct  regulator  of  our 
inflammatory  response,  and  ALA  is  the  building  block  for  several  of  the  body's  most  widely-used  families  of  anti- 
inflammatory messaging  molecules.  In  addition  to  these  two  anti-inflammatory  components,  one  of  the  glucosinolates  found  in 
collard  greens — glucobrassicin — can  be  readily  converted  into  an  isothiocyanate  molecule  called  I3C,  or  indole-3-carbinol 
(I3C).  I3C  is  an  anti-inflammatory  compound  that  can  actually  operate  at  the  genetic  level,  and  by  doing  so,  prevent  the 
initiation  of  inflammatory  responses  at  a very  early  stage. 

Like  chronic  oxidative  stress  and  chronic  weakened  detox  ability,  chronic  unwanted  inflammation  can  significantly  increase 
our  risk  of  cancers  and  other  chronic  diseases  (especially  cardiovascular  diseases). 

Collard  Greens  and  Cardiovascular  Support 

Researchers  have  looked  at  a variety  of  cardiovascular  problems — including  heart  attack,  ischemic  heart  disease,  and 
atherosclerosis — and  found  preliminary  evidence  of  an  ability  on  the  part  of  cruciferous  vegetables  to  lower  our  risk  of  these 
health  problems.  Yet  regardless  of  the  specific  cardiovascular  problem,  it  is  one  particular  type  of  cardiovascular  benefit  that 
has  most  interested  researchers,  and  that  benefit  is  the  anti-inflammatory  nature  of  collard  greens  and  their  fellow  cruciferous 
vegetables.  Scientists  have  not  always  viewed  cardiovascular  problems  as  having  a central  inflammatory  component,  but  the 
role  of  unwanted  inflammation  in  creating  problems  for  our  blood  vessels  and  circulation  has  become  increasingly 
fundamental  to  an  understanding  of  cardiovascular  diseases.  Of  particular  interest  here  has  been  the  isothiocyanate  (ITC) 
sulforaphane,  which  is  made  from  glucoraphanin  (a  glucosinolate)  found  in  collard  greens.  Not  only  does  this  ITC  trigger  anti- 


inflammatory  activity  in  our  cardiovascular  system,  it  may  also  be  able  to  help  prevent  and  even  possibly  help  reverse  blood 
vessel  damage. 

A second  area  you  can  count  on  collard  greens  for  cardiovascular  support  involves  their  cholesterol-lowering  ability.  Our  liver 
uses  cholesterol  as  a basic  building  block  to  product  bile  acids.  Bile  acids  are  specialized  molecules  that  aid  in  the  digestion 
and  absorption  of  fat  through  a process  called  emulsification.  These  molecules  are  typically  stored  in  fluid  in  our  gall  bladder, 
and  when  we  eat  a fat-containing  meal,  they  get  released  into  the  intestine  where  they  help  ready  the  fat  for  interaction  with 
enzymes  and  eventual  absorption  up  into  the  body.  When  we  eat  collard  greens,  fiber-related  nutrients  in  this  cruciferous 
vegetable  bind  together  with  some  of  the  bile  acids  in  the  intestine  in  such  a way  that  they  simply  stay  inside  the  intestine  and 
pass  out  of  our  body  in  a bowel  movement,  rather  than  getting  absorbed  along  with  the  fat  they  have  emulsified.  When  this 
happens,  our  liver  needs  to  replace  the  lost  bile  acids  by  drawing  upon  our  existing  supply  of  cholesterol,  and  as  a result,  our 
cholesterol  level  drops  down.  Collard  greens  provide  us  with  this  cholesterol-lowering  benefit  whether  they  are  raw  or  cooked. 
However,  a recent  study  has  shown  that  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  raw  collard  greens  improves  significantly  when  they 
are  steamed.  In  fact,  when  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  steamed  collard  greens  was  compared  with  the  cholesterol- 
lowering ability  of  the  prescription  drug  cholestyramine  (a  medication  that  is  taken  for  the  purpose  of  lowering  cholesterol), 
collard  greens  bound  46%  as  many  bile  acids  (based  on  a standard  of  comparison  involving  total  dietary  fiber). 

In  addition  to  the  support  factors  described  above,  it  would  be  wrong  to  talk  about  the  cardiovascular  benefits  of  collard  greens 
without  mentioning  their  diverse  array  of  B vitamins.  Collard  greens  are  a very  good  source  of  vitamins  B2,  B6,  and  choline, 
and  a good  source  of  vitamins  B 1 , B3,  folate,  and  pantothenic  acid.  A well-balanced  intake  of  B vitamins  - especially  vitamins 
B6,  B12,  folate,  and  choline  - can  be  important  in  controlling  cardiovascular  disease  risk.  Since  excessive  or  deficient  intake  of 
these  B vitamins  can  have  an  unwanted  impact  on  your  disease  risk,  it  is  great  to  have  a food  like  collard  greens  that  provide  a 
helpful  amount  of  so  many  B vitamins. 

Collard  Greens  and  Digestive  Support 

The  fiber  content  of  collard  greens — over  7 grams  in  every  cup — makes  this  cruciferous  vegetable  a natural  choice  for 
digestive  system  support.  Yet  the  fiber  content  of  collard  greens  is  only  one  of  their  digestive  support  mechanisms.  Researchers 
have  determined  that  the  sulforaphane  made  from  a glucosinolate  in  collard  greens  (glucoraphanin)  helps  protect  the  health  of 
our  stomach  lining  by  preventing  bacterial  overgrowth  of  Helicobacter  pylori  in  our  stomach  or  too  much  clinging  by  this 
bacterium  to  our  stomach  wall. 

Other  Health  Benefits  From  Collard  Greens 

The  anti-inflammatory  nature  of  glucosinolates/isothiocyanates  and  other  nutrients  found  in  collard  greens  has  been  the  basis 
for  new  research  on  inflammation-related  health  problems  and  the  potential  role  of  collard  greens  in  their  prevention.  Current 
and  potentially  promising  research  is  underway  to  examine  the  benefits  of  collard  greens  in  relationship  to  our  risk  of  the 
following  inflammation-related  conditions:  Crohn's  disease,  inflammatory  bowel  disease,  insulin  resistance,  irritable  bowel 
syndrome,  metabolic  syndrome,  obesity,  rheumatoid  arthritis,  type  2 diabetes,  and  ulcerative  colitis. 

Description 

All  cruciferous  vegetables  provide  integrated  nourishment  across  a wide  variety  of  nutritional  categories  and  provide  broad 
support  across  a wide  variety  of  body  systems  as  well.  For  more  on  cruciferous  vegetables  see: 

• Eating  Healthy  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

• Feeling  Great  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

Collards  are  leafy  green  vegetables  that  belong  to  the  same  family  that  includes  cabbage,  kale,  and  broccoli.  While  they  share 
the  same  botanical  name  as  kale,  Brassica  oleracea,  and  some  resemblance,  they  have  their  own  distinctive  qualities.  Like  kale, 
collards  are  one  of  the  non-head  forming  members  of  the  Brassica  family.  Collards'  unique  appearance  features  dark  blue  green 
leaves  that  are  smooth  in  texture  and  relatively  broad.  They  lack  the  frilled  edges  that  are  so  distinctive  to  their  cousin  kale. 

Long  a staple  of  the  Southern  United  States,  collard  greens,  unlike  their  cousins  kale  and  mustard  greens,  have  a very  mild, 
almost  smoky  flavor.  Although  they  are  available  year-round  they  are  at  their  best  from  January  through  April. 


History 


Like  kale,  cauliflower  and  broccoli,  collards  are  descendents  of  the  wild  cabbage,  a plant  thought  to  have  been  consumed  as 
food  since  prehistoric  times  and  to  have  originated  in  Asia  Minor.  From  there  it  spread  into  Europe,  being  introduced  by 
groups  of  Celtic  wanderers  around  600  B.C.  Collards  have  been  cultivated  since  the  times  of  the  ancient  Greek  and  Roman 
civilizations.  While  collards  may  have  been  introduced  into  the  United  States  before,  the  first  mention  of  collard  greens  dates 
back  to  the  late  17th  century.  Collards  are  an  integral  food  in  traditional  southern  American  cuisine. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Look  for  collard  greens  that  have  firm,  unwilted  leaves  that  are  vividly  deep  green  in  color  with  no  signs  of  yellowing  or 
browning.  Leaves  that  are  smaller  in  size  will  be  more  tender  and  have  a milder  flavor.  They  should  be  displayed  in  a chilled 
section  in  the  refrigerator  case  to  prevent  them  from  wilting  and  becoming  bitter. 

Place  collard  greens  in  a plastic  bag,  removing  as  much  of  the  air  from  the  bag  as  possible.  Store  in  the  refrigerator  where  they 
should  keep  fresh  for  about  three  to  five  days.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  collard  greens — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is 
likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Serve  steamed  collard  greens  with  black-eyed  peas  and  brown  rice  for  a Southern-inspired  meal. 

• Use  lightly  steamed,  cooled,  and  chopped  collard  greens  as  a filling  in  your  sushi  vegetable  rolls. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Collard  Greens 

• Poached  Eggs  Over  Collard  Greens  & Shiitake  Mushrooms 

• Italian  Navy  Bean  Soup  with  Rosemary 

• Zestv  Mexican  Soup 

• 5-Minute  Collard  Greens 

• Pinto  Beans  with  Collard  Greens 

• Steamed  Vegetable  Medley 

Safety 

Collard  Greens  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  collard  greens  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is  "goitrogenic." 
For  helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What  is  meant  bv  the 
term  "goitrogen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Collard  Greens,  chopped,  cooked 

1.00  cup 

190.00  grams 

Calories:  63 
GI:  very  low 

Nutrient  Amount 

DRI/DV 

(%) 

Nutrient 

Density 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

1 

vitamin  K 

772.54  meg 

858 

246.4 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

722.00  meg  RAE 

80 

23.0 

excellent 

manuanese 

0.97  mg 

49 

13.9 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

34.58  mg 

46 

13.2 

excellent 

fiber 

7.60  g 

30 

8.7 

excellent 

calcium 

267.90  mg 

27 

7.7 

excellent 

choline 

72.96  mg 

17 

4.9 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.20  mg 

15 

4.4 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.24  mg 

14 

4.1 

very  good 

iron 

2.15  mg 

12 

3.4 

very  good 

vitamin  E 

1.67  mg  (ATE) 

11 

3.2 

good 

Conner 

0.10  mg 

11 

3.2 

good 

nrotein 

5.15  g 

10 

3.0 

good 

mamesium 

39.90  mg 

10 

2.9 

good 

phosphoms 

60.80  mg 

9 

2.5 

good 

nantothenic  acid 

0.41  mg 

8 

2.4 

good 

folate 

30.40  meg 

8 

2.2 

good 

omeea-3  fats 

0.18  g 

8 

2.2 

good 

vitamin  B3 

1.09  mg 

7 

2.0 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.08  mg 

7 

1.9 

good 

ootassium 

222.30  mg 

6 

1.8 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

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• Fowke  JH,  Morrow  JD,  Motley  S,  et  al.  Brassica  vegetable  consumption  reduces  urinary  F2-isoprostane  levels 
independent  of  micronutrient  intake.  Carcinogenesis,  October  1,  2006;  27(10):  2096  - 2102.  2006. 

• Higdon  JV,  Delage  B,  Williams  DE,  et  al.  Cruciferous  Vegetables  and  Human  Cancer  Risk:  Epidemiologic  Evidence  and 
Mechanistic  Basis.  Pharmacol  Res.  2007  March;  55(3):  224-236.  2007. 

• Hu  J,  Straub  J,  Xiao  D,  et  al.  Phenethyl  isothiocyanate,  a cancer  chemopreventive  constituent  of  cruciferous  vegetables, 
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15;67(8):3569-73.  2007. 

• Hutzen  B,  Willis  W,  Jones  S,  et  al.  Dietary  agent,  benzyl  isothiocyanate  inhibits  signal  transducer  and  activator  of 
transcription  3 phosphorylation  and  collaborates  with  sulforaphane  in  the  growth  suppression  of  PANC-1  cancer  cells. 
Cancer  Cell  International  2009,  9:24.  2009. 

• Jiang  H,  Shang  X,  Wu  H,  et  al.  Combination  treatment  with  resveratrol  and  sulforaphane  induces  apoptosis  in  human 
U251  glioma  cells.  Neurochem  Res.  2010  Jan;35(l):152-61.  2010. 

• Kahlon  TS,  Chiu  MC,  Chapman  MH.  Steam  cooking  significantly  improves  in  vitro  bile  acid  binding  of  collard  greens, 
kale,  mustard  greens,  broccoli,  green  bell  pepper,  and  cabbage.  2008  Jun;28(6):351-7.  2008. 

• Kelemen  LE,  Cerhan  JR,  Lim  U,  et  al.  Vegetables,  fruit,  and  antioxidant-related  nutrients  and  risk  of  non-Hodgkin 
lymphoma:  a National  Cancer  Institute-Surveillance,  Epidemiology,  and  End  Results  population-based  case-control 
study.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006  Jun;83(6):  1401-10.  2006. 

• Konsue  N,  Ioannides  C.  Modulation  of  carcinogen-metabolising  cytochromes  P450  in  human  liver  by  the 
chemopreventive  phytochemical  phenethyl  isothiocyanate,  a constituent  of  cruciferous  vegetables.  Toxicology.  2010  Feb 
9;268(3):184-90.  2010. 

• Kunimasa  K,  Kobayashi  T,  Kaji  K et  al.  Antiangiogenic  effects  of  indole-3-carbinol  and  3,3'-diindolylmethane  are 
associated  with  their  differential  regulation  of  ERK1/2  and  Akt  in  tube-forming  HUVEC.  J Nutr.  2010  Jan;  140(1):  1-6. 
2010. 

• Lakhan  SE,  Kirchgessner  A,  Hofer  M.  Inflammatory  mechanisms  in  ischemic  stroke:  therapeutic  approaches.  Journal  of 
Translational  Medicine  2009,  7:97.  2009. 

• Larsson  SC,  Andersson  SO,  Johansson  JE,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  consumption  and  risk  of  bladder  cancer:  a 
prospective  cohort  study.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2008  Sep;17(9):2519-22.  2008. 

• Li  F,  Hullar  MAJ,  Schwarz  Y,  et  al.  Human  Gut  Bacterial  Communities  Are  Altered  by  Addition  of  Cruciferous 
Vegetables  to  a Controlled  Fruit-  and  Vegetable-Free  Diet.  Journal  of  Nutrition,  Vol.  139,  No.  9,  1685-1691,  September 

2009.  2009. 

• Lin  J,  Kamat  A,  Gu  J,  et  al.  Dietary  intake  of  vegetables  and  fruits  and  the  modification  effects  of  GSTM 1 and  NAT2 
genotypes  on  bladder  cancer  risk.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2009  Jul;18(7):2090-7.  2009. 

• Machijima  Y,  Ishikawa  C,  Sawada  S,  et  al.  Anti-adult  T-cell  leukemia/lymphoma  effects  of  indole-3 -carbinol. 

Retro  virology  2009,  6:7.  2009. 

• Moore  LE,  Brennan  P,  Karami  S,  et  al.  Glutathione  S-transferase  polymorphisms,  cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and 
cancer  risk  in  the  Central  and  Eastern  European  Kidney  Cancer  Study.  Carcinogenesis.  2007  Sep;28(9):  1960-4.  Epub 
2007  Jul  7.  2007. 

• Nettleton  JA,  Steffen  LM,  Mayer-Davis  EJ,  et  al.  Dietary  patterns  are  associated  with  biochemical  markers  of 
inflammation  and  endothelial  activation  in  the  Multi-Ethnic  Study  of  Atherosclerosis  (MESA).  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006 
Jun;83(6):  1369-79.  2006. 

• Rungapamestry  V,  Duncan  AJ,  Fuller  Z et  al.  Effect  of  cooking  brassica  vegetables  on  the  subsequent  hydrolysis  and 
metabolic  fate  of  glucosinolates.  Proc  Nutr  Soc.  2007  Feb;66(l):69-81.  2007. 

• Silberstein  JL,  Parsons  JK.  Evidence-based  principles  of  bladder  cancer  and  diet.  Urology.  2010  Feb;75(2):340-6.  2010. 

• Steinbrecher  A,  Linseisen  J.  Dietary  Intake  of  Individual  Glucosinolates  in  Participants  of  the  EPIC-Heidelberg  Cohort 
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• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Jayaprakash  V,  et  al.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  is  inversely  associated  with  lung  cancer  risk 
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2010. 


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Corn 


What  food  is  more  synonymous  with  summer  than  freshly  picked  corn  on  the  cob?  Corn  grows  in  "ears,"  each  of  which  is 
covered  in  rows  of  kernels  that  are  then  protected  by  the  silk-like  threads  called  "corn  silk"  and  encased  in  a husk.  Corn  is 
known  scientifically  as  Zea  mays.  This  moniker  reflects  its  traditional  name,  maize,  by  which  it  was  known  to  the  Native 
Americans  as  well  as  many  other  cultures  throughout  the  world.  Although  we  often  associate  corn  with  the  color  yellow,  it 
actually  comes  in  host  of  different  varieties  featuring  an  array  of  different  colors,  including  red,  pink,  black,  purple,  and  blue. 
Although  corn  is  now  available  in  markets  year-round,  it  is  the  locally  grown  varieties  that  you  can  purchase  during  the 
summer  months  that  not  only  tastes  the  best  but  are  usually  the  least  expensive. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Corn 

• You  can  get  health-supportive  antioxidant  benefits  from  all  varieties  of  corn,  including  white,  yellow,  blue,  purple  and 
red  corn.  But  recent  research  has  shown  the  antioxidant  benefits  from  different  varieties  of  corn  actually  come  from 
different  combinations  of  phytonutrients.  In  the  case  of  yellow  corn,  it's  the  antioxidant  carotenoids  leading  the  way, 
with  especially  high  concentrations  of  lutein  and  zeaxanthin.  In  the  case  of  blue  corn,  it's  the  anthocyanins.  There's  one 
particular  hydroxybenzoic  acid  in  purple  corn — protocatechuic  acid — that's  also  been  recently  linked  to  the  strong 
antioxidant  activity  in  this  corn  variety. 

• In  research  on  carotenoid  antioxidants  in  food,  there  has  been  ongoing  debate  over  the  availability  of  all  carotenoids  in 
any  particular  food  if  one  or  two  specific  carotenoids  are  present  in  unusually  high  amounts.  Because  yellow  corn  is  a 
high-carotenoid  food  that  contains  highly  differing  amounts  of  individual  carotenoids,  researchers  have  long  wondered 
whether  it  is  possible  to  get  health  benefits  from  all  of  the  carotenoids  in  yellow  corn  when  their  concentrations  are 
sometimes  so  different.  In  yellow  cornmeal,  the  carotenoids  lutein  and  zeaxanthin  fall  into  the  high  concentration 
category  and  reach  a level  of  1,355  micrograms  per  100  grams.  That  level  is  nearly  14  times  as  high  as  the  level  of  beta- 
carotene  (97  micrograms  per  100  grams).  But  thanks  to  recent  research,  we  now  know  that  absorption  of  beta-carotene 
from  yellow  cornmeal  is  only  mildly  compromised  by  the  high  levels  of  lutein  and  zeaxanthin  in  the  cornmeal.  In  other 
words,  in  terms  of  carotenoid  nourishment,  we  appear  to  get  health  benefits  from  all  of  corn's  diverse  carotenoids! 

• We  correctly  think  about  com  as  a good  source  of  fiber.  Com  is  a food  that  gives  us  plenty  of  chewing  satisfaction,  and 
its  high  ratio  of  insoluble-to-soluble  fiber  is  partly  the  reason.  Past  researchers  have  not  been  clear,  however,  about  the 
ability  of  corn  fiber  to  nourish  our  lower  digestive  tract.  When  you  look  at  foods  as  a whole,  they  contain  many  different 
types  of  fiber,  and  when  certain  types  of  fiber  reach  the  lower  part  of  our  large  intestine  (especially  certain  types  of 
soluble  fiber)  they  can  be  metabolized  by  intestinal  bacteria  into  short  chain  fatty  acids  (SCFAs).  This  process  not  only 
helps  support  healthy  populations  of  friendly  bacteria  in  our  large  intestine,  but  also  provides  a direct  supply  of  energy 
(in  the  form  of  SCFAs)  to  the  cells  that  line  our  large  intestine.  With  this  benefit  of  this  extra  SCFA  energy  supply,  our 
intestinal  cells  can  stay  healthier  and  function  at  a lower  risk  of  becoming  cancerous.  Recent  research  has  shown  that 
com  can  support  the  growth  of  friendly  bacteria  in  our  large  intestine  and  can  also  be  transformed  by  these  bacteria  into 
SCFAs.  These  SCFAs  can  supply  energy  to  our  intestinal  cells  and  thereby  help  lower  our  risk  of  colon  cancer.  The 
amount  of  corn  fiber  analyzed  in  recent  studies  has  been  relatively  high  at  12  grams  per  day.  That's  the  same  amount 
provided  by  about  2.5  cups  of  fresh  corn.  While  that  amount  might  be  more  than  you  would  consume  at  a single  meal, 
it's  an  amount  that  you  might  easily  consume  over  the  course  of  several  days.  We  suspect  that  future  research  will 
demonstrate  the  risk-reducing  effects  of  smaller  amounts  of  corn  consumed  over  a longer  period  of  time. 


Corn,  yellow,  cooked 
1.00  each 
(77.00  grams) 

Calories:  74 

GI:  medium 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

pantothenic  acid 

12% 

phosphorus 

8% 

vitamin  B3 

8% 

manganese 

7% 

fiber 

7% 

vitamin  B6 

6% 

Health  Benefits 


Corn  has  gathered  a diverse  reputation  in  the  U.S.  For  some  people,  corn  is  a "staple"  food  that  provides  the  foundation  for 
tortillas,  burritos,  or  polenta.  For  others,  corn  is  a "snack"  food  that  comes  in  the  form  of  popcorn  and  corn  chips.  For  still 
others,  corn  is  a "special  summertime  food"  that  is  essential  at  barbecues  and  cookouts.  But  regardless  of  its  reputation,  corn  is 
seldom  considered  in  the  U.S.  as  a unique  source  of  health  benefits.  Yet  that's  exactly  what  research  results  are  telling  us  about 
this  amazing  grain. 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

While  it  might  sound  surprising  to  some  people  who  are  used  to  thinking  about  corn  as  a plain,  staple  food,  or  a snack  food,  or 
a summertime  party  food,  corn  is  actually  a unique  phytonutrient-rich  food  that  provides  us  with  well-documented  antioxidant 
benefits.  In  terms  of  conventional  antioxidant  nutrients,  corn  is  a good  source  of  the  mineral  manganese.  But  it  is  corn's 
phytonutrients  that  have  taken  center  stage  in  the  antioxidant  research  on  corn.  When  all  varieties  of  corn  are  considered  as  a 
group,  the  list  of  corn's  key  antioxidant  nutrients  appears  as  follows: 

Antioxidant  Phytonutrients  in  Corn 

• anthocyanins 

• beta-carotene 

• caffeic  acid 

• coumaric  acid 

• ferulic  acid 

• lutein 

• syringic  acid 

• vanillic  acid 

• protocatechuic  acid 

• zeaxanthin 

Different  varieties  of  corn  highlight  different  combinations  of  antioxidant  phytonutrients.  In  the  case  of  yellow  corn, 
carotenoids  lead  the  way  and  provide  especially  high  concentrations  of  lutein  and  zeaxanthin.  Blue  corn  is  unique  in  its 
anthocyanin  antioxidants.  One  particular  hydroxybenzoic  acid  in  purple  corn — protocatechuic  acid — has  recently  been  linked 
to  the  strong  antioxidant  activity  in  this  corn  variety. 

Most  studies  of  disease  and  risk  reduction  from  dietary  antioxidant  intake  have  not  looked  specifically  at  com  and  its 
impressive  combination  of  antioxidants.  However,  in  several  small-scale  studies,  corn  has  been  directly  mentioned  as  a food 
that  was  important  in  overall  antioxidant  protection  and  a contributing  factor  in  the  decreased  risk  of  cardiovascular  problems. 
Some  of  the  mechanisms  for  decreased  cardio  risk  may  be  related  to  other  properties  of  corn's  phytonutrients  that  go  beyond 
their  antioxidant  properties.  For  example,  some  of  the  phytonutrients  in  corn  may  be  able  to  inhibit  angiotensin-I  converting 
enzyme  (ACE)  and  help  lower  risk  of  high  blood  pressure  in  this  way.  We  suspect  that  future  studies  will  further  confirm  the 
important  role  of  corn's  phytonutrients  in  reduction  of  risk  for  a variety  of  health  problems,  and  that  antioxidant  and  other 
properties  will  play  a key  role  in  this  risk  reduction. 

One  great  piece  of  news  about  corn's  antioxidants  involves  the  practice  of  drying  corn  (still  on  the  cob)  or  separated  corn 
kernels.  Research  studies  have  shown  that  the  drying  of  corn  in  temperature  ranges  as  high  as  150°-200°F  (65°-93°C)  does  not 
significantly  lower  corn's  antioxidant  capacity.  This  research  confirms  the  wisdom  of  many  North  American  and 
Mesoamerican  cultures  which  relied  on  naturally-dried  corn  in  the  preparation  of  meal  foods,  especially  during  the  winter 
months. 

Interestingly,  recent  research  has  determined  that  the  percent  of  amylose  starch  found  in  corn  may  be  related  to  its  antioxidant 
capacity.  Higher  amylose  corn  varieties  have  shown  higher  antioxidant  capacity  in  some  preliminary  studies.  While  the  jury  is 
out  on  the  exact  meaning  of  these  findings,  this  research  reminds  us  to  keep  an  open  mind  about  the  potential  importance  of 
antioxidant  health  benefits  from  corn. 

Digestive  Benefits 

Anyone  who  has  eaten  fresh  corn-on-the-cob  or  freshly  popped  popcorn  knows  how  satisfying  this  food  can  be  to  chew.  Some 
of  that  satisfaction  comes  from  corn's  fiber  content.  At  4.6  grams  of  fiber  per  cup,  corn  is  a good  fiber  source,  and  in  research 
studies,  corn  intake  is  often  associated  with  good  overall  fiber  intake.  For  example,  persons  who  eat  popcorn  tend  to  have  2-3 
times  more  overall  whole  grain  intake  than  persons  who  do  not  eat  popcorn,  and  they  also  tend  to  have  higher  overall  fiber 
intake  as  well. 


Corn  fiber  is  one  of  the  keys  to  its  well-documented  digestive  benefits.  Recent  research  has  shown  that  corn  can  support  the 
growth  of  friendly  bacteria  in  our  large  intestine  and  can  also  be  transformed  by  these  bacteria  into  short  chain  fatty  acids,  or 
SCFAs.  These  SCFAs  can  supply  energy  to  our  intestinal  cells  and  thereby  help  lower  our  risk  of  intestinal  problems,  including 
our  risk  of  colon  cancer.  The  amount  of  corn  fiber  analyzed  in  recent  studies  has  been  relatively  high  at  12  grams  per  day. 

That's  the  same  amount  provided  by  about  2.5  cups  of  fresh  corn.  While  that  amount  might  be  more  than  any  person  would 
consume  in  a single  meal,  it's  an  amount  that  a person  might  easily  eat  over  the  course  of  several  days.  We  suspect  that  future 
research  will  demonstrate  the  risk-reducing  effects  of  smaller  amounts  of  corn  consumed  over  a longer  period  of  time. 

Blood  Sugar  Benefits 

Given  its  good  fiber  content,  its  ability  to  provide  many  B-complex  vitamins  including  vitamins  Bl,  B5  and  folic  acid,  and  its 
notable  protein  content  (about  5-6  grams  per  cup),  corn  is  a food  that  would  be  expected  to  provide  blood  sugar  benefits.  Fiber 
and  protein  are  key  macronutrients  for  stabilizing  the  passage  of  food  through  our  digestive  tract.  Sufficient  fiber  and  protein 
content  in  a food  helps  prevent  too  rapid  or  too  slow  digestion  of  that  food.  By  evening  out  the  pace  of  digestion,  protein  and 
fiber  also  help  prevent  too  rapid  or  too  slow  uptake  of  sugar  from  the  digestive  tract  up  into  the  bloodstream.  Once  the  uptake 
of  sugar  is  steadied,  it  is  easier  to  avoid  sudden  spikes  or  drops  in  blood  sugar. 

Consumption  of  corn  in  ordinary  amounts  of  1-2  cups  has  been  shown  to  be  associated  with  better  blood  sugar  control  in  both 
type  1 and  type  2 diabetes.  Fasting  glucose  and  fasting  insulin  levels  have  been  used  to  verify  these  blood  sugar  benefits. 
Interestingly,  in  elementary  school-age  and  teenage  youths  already  diagnosed  with  type  1 diabetes,  whole  grain  cornbread  has 
emerged  in  one  study  as  the  whole  grain  food  with  the  highest  acceptability  among  all  whole  grain  foods.  Youth  participants  in 
the  study  who  consumed  whole  grain  cornbread  were  also  less  likely  to  consume  fast  foods. 

Other  Benefits 

In  countries  outside  of  the  U.S.,  numerous  studies  have  examined  the  ability  of  corn  to  improve  overall  nourishment,  especially 
when  combined  with  legumes.  Researchers  conducting  these  studies  have  been  interested  in  absorption  of  minerals  like  zinc, 
calcium  and  iron,  as  well  as  overall  energy  and  protein  intake.  Maize  (corn)-bean  meals  (typically  consumed  in  the  form  of 
porridge  that  combines  these  foods)  have  been  shown  to  help  improve  overall  nutrient  status  and  to  help  provide  outstanding 
nutrient  richness  in  the  diet. 

One  fascinating  new  area  of  research  on  corn  involves  its  potential  anti-HIV  activity.  Lectins  are  special  proteins  found  in 
virtually  all  foods  (and  for  that  matter,  in  virtually  all  organisms)  that  can  bind  onto  carbohydrates  or  onto  carbohydrate 
receptors  that  are  found  on  cell  membranes.  In  the  case  of  some  micro-organisms  (including  the  HIV  virus),  the  binding  of 
lectins  onto  sugars  has  been  shown  to  help  inhibit  activity  of  the  vims.  One  specific  lectin  found  in  corn  (called  GNAmaize) 
has  preliminarily  been  shown  to  possess  this  HIV-inhibiting  property.  Of  course,  much  more  research  is  needed  to  determine 
the  relationship  between  everyday  consumption  of  corn  as  a whole  food  and  HIV  infection  risk. 

Description 

While  the  kernels  that  we  commonly  call  "corn"  are  technically  the  fruit  of  the  plant  Zea  mays,  corn  is  widely  classified  as  a 
grain  and  is  typically  included  in  research  studies  of  whole  grain  foods  like  wheat,  oats,  and  barley.  Throughout  much  of  the 
world,  corn  is  referred  to  as  "maize."  In  many  ways,  "maize"  is  the  best  way  of  describing  this  plant  since  it  was  first 
domesticated  in  Mesoamerica  over  8,000  years  ago  and  was  originally  described  using  the  Spanish  word  "maiz."  This 
remarkable  food  took  on  sacred  qualities  for  many  Central  American  and  South  American  cultures,  as  well  as  many  Native 
American  tribes  in  what  is  now  the  United  States. 

All  types  of  corn  come  from  the  same  genus  and  species  of  plant,  Zea  mays.  However,  within  this  genus  and  species,  there  are 
well  over  1 00  subspecies  and  varieties.  Many  different  subspecies  are  most  familiar  to  consumers  in  terms  of  color.  White, 
yellow,  pink,  red,  blue,  purple,  and  black  com  are  all  varieties  of  Zea  mays.  Each  of  these  varieties  contains  its  own  unique 
health-supportive  combination  of  antioxidant  phytonutrients.  In  the  case  of  yellow  corn,  there's  a greater  concentration  of 
carotenoids,  especially  lutein  and  zeaxanthin.  With  blue  corn,  there's  a richer  supply  of  anthocyanins.  In  purple  corn,  there's 
one  particular  hydroxybenzoic  acid — protocatechuic  acid — that's  been  recently  linked  to  this  variety's  antioxidant  capacity. 

History 

Perhaps  no  other  food  has  been  more  closely  identified  with  the  Americas  than  corn.  Both  the  Mayan  and  the  Olmec 
civilizations  that  date  back  to  2000-1500  BC  in  what  is  now  Mexico  and  Central  America  (commonly  called  Mesoamerica) 
had  not  only  adopted  maize  as  a staple  food  in  the  diet  but  had  also  developed  a reverence  for  maize  that  was  expressed  in 


everyday  rituals,  religious  ceremonies,  and  in  the  arts.  The  first  domestication  of  maize  in  Mesoamerica  actually  dates  back 
even  further,  to  9000-8000  BC.  Corn  was  equally  valued  by  Native  American  tribes  living  in  North  America,  although  tribal 
wisdom  about  corn  was  largely  ignored  by  European  colonists  in  the  15th  and  16th  centuries  AD. 

By  the  time  Columbus  and  other  explorers  arrived  in  North  America,  corn  was  already  an  integral  part  of  Native  American 
cuisine.  However,  many  colonists  ignored  Native  American  traditions  related  to  com — including  the  pot  ash  tradition — and 
later  fell  victim  to  the  vitamin  B3  deficiency  disease  called  pellagra.  (When  cooking  corn  and  cornmeal,  Native  Americans 
had  developed  a practice  of  incorporating  ash  from  the  fire  into  the  food,  and  the  mineral  mix  in  this  ash  increased  the 
bioavailability  of  vitamin  B3  from  the  corn.  The  addition  of  lime  in  the  form  of  calcium  hydroxide  to  tortillas  still  serves  this 
purpose  today.) 

While  the  average  U.S.  adult  does  not  share  the  reverence  for  corn  that  characterized  the  practices  of  Native  Americans  and 
indigenous  peoples  of  Mesoamerica,  there  is  still  an  amazing  influence  of  com  on  the  U.S.  diet.  Forty  percent  of  all  processed, 
pre-packaged  foods  sold  in  U.S.  groceries  currently  contain  some  processed  component  of  corn,  although  this  component  is 
most  often  high  fructose  corn  syrup  (HFCS).  Per  capita  consumption  of  com  in  all  forms  is  approximately  160  pounds  in  the 
U.S.  (and  approximately  60-65  pounds  come  in  the  form  of  HFCS).  U.S.  farmers  grow  about  40%  of  all  corn  produced 
worldwide.  An  important  region  of  the  U.S.  is  still  identified  as  the  "Corn  Belt."  This  region  is  typically  defined  as  including 
Iowa,  Illinois,  the  eastern  parts  of  Nebraska  and  Kansas  as  well  as  North  and  South  Dakota,  the  southern  part  of  Minnesota, 
and  parts  of  northern  Missouri  as  well  as  Ohio  and  Indiana.  However,  Iowa,  Illinois,  Nebraska  and  Minnesota  remain  the  top 
producers  of  com  in  the  U.S.  and  provide  over  50%  of  all  U.S.  corn  crops. 

An  increasing  trend  in  U.S.  production  of  corn  has  been  cultivation  for  non-food  purposes.  Addition  of  ethanol  to  gasoline  and 
biofuel  production  have  been  two  important  factors  in  the  shift  away  from  food-based  cultivation  of  corn.  The  cultivation  of 
corn  for  ethanol  production  has  also  led  to  an  increased  supply  of  ethanol  by-products  that  have  found  their  way  into  the 
marketplace.  An  example  here  is  distillers  dried  grains,  or  DDGs.  DDGs  have  already  become  an  important  part  of  livestock 
feed,  along  with  other  corn  components. 

Along  with  the  United  States,  other  important  commercial  producers  of  corn  currently  include  China,  Brazil,  Mexico,  Russia, 
Ukraine,  Romania,  and  South  Africa. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

From  a food  safety  standpoint,  we  recommend  selection  of  corn  that  has  not  been  exposed  to  any  substantial  amount  of  heat. 
Exposure  to  excess  heat  can  increase  the  susceptibility  of  fresh  corn  to  microbial  contamination.  If  you  are  shopping  in  the 
grocery  store,  your  safest  bet  is  corn  that  is  being  displayed  in  a refrigerated  produce  bin.  Next  safest  would  be  corn  that,  while 
not  refrigerated,  is  still  being  displayed  in  a cool  store  location,  out  of  direct  sun  and  not  near  a heat  source.  These  same 
recommendations  apply  for  corn  in  a farmer's  market  or  roadside  stand.  Here  display  of  corn  in  the  shade  and  out  of  direct 
sunlight  can  be  important  from  a food  safety  standpoint. 

Look  for  corn  whose  husks  are  fresh  and  green  and  not  dried  out.  They  should  envelope  the  ear  and  not  fit  too  loosely  around 
it.  To  examine  the  kernels,  gently  pull  back  on  part  of  the  husk.  The  kernels  should  be  plump  and  tightly  arranged  in  rows.  Due 
to  changes  that  have  occurred  over  time  in  commercial  corn  production,  corn  has  become  a food  where  quality  is  especially 
important.  Over  70%  of  all  corn  found  in  U.S.  grocery  stores  has  been  genetically  modified  in  the  form  of  herbicide-tolerant, 
or  HT  corn,  or  the  form  of  insect-resistant,  or  Bt  corn.  (Bt  corn  gets  its  name  from  the  transfer  of  a gene  from  the  soil 
bacterium,  Bacillus  thuringiensis,  into  the  corn.  A protein  toxin  produced  by  this  bacterium  helps  to  kill  certain  insects  that 
might  otherwise  eat  the  corn.)  While  there  is  no  large  scale  human  research  on  GE  corn  and  its  health  impact,  we  share  the 
concern  of  many  researchers  about  the  introduction  of  novel  proteins  into  food  and  their  potential  for  increasing  risk  of  adverse 
reactions,  including  food  allergies.  One  way  to  avoid  these  potential  GE  risks  is  to  select  certified  organic  corn,  since  GE 
modifications  are  not  allowed  in  certified  organic  food. 

Non-organic,  conventionally  grown  corn  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  contain  organochlorine  pesticide  residues.  In  one  study, 
19  different  pesticide  residues  were  found  on  samples  of  conventionally  grown  corn.  Like  potential  GE  risks,  potential 
pesticide  risks  can  be  avoided  through  selection  of  certified  organic  com. 

Traditionally  to  enjoy  the  optimal  sweetness  of  fresh  corn,  it  was  recommended  to  eat  it  the  day  of  purchase.  New  varieties 
allow  you  3 days  to  still  enjoy  its  full  flavor.  Store  corn  in  an  air-tight  container  or  tightly  wrapped  plastic  bag  in  the 
refrigerator  if  you  do  not  intend  to  cook  it  on  the  day  of  purchase.  Do  not  remove  its  husk  since  this  will  protect  its  flavor. 

Fresh  corn  freezes  well  if  placed  in  heavy-duty  freezer  bags.  To  prepare  whole  ears  for  freezing,  blanch  them  first  for  five 
minutes  depending.  If  you  just  want  to  freeze  the  kernels,  first  blanch  the  ears  and  then  cut  the  kernels  off  the  cob  at  about 


three-quarters  of  their  depths.  Frozen  whole  corn  on  the  cob  will  keep  for  up  to  one  year,  while  the  kernels  can  be  frozen  for 
two  to  three  months. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Eat  corn  on  the  cob  either  just  as  is  or  seasoned  with  a little  organic  butter,  olive  oil  or  flaxseed  oil,  salt  and  pepper, 
nutritional  yeast  or  any  other  herbs  or  spices  you  enjoy. 

• Flealthv  saute  cooked  corn  with  green  chilies  and  onions.  Served  hot,  this  makes  a wonderful  side  dish. 

• Enjoy  a cold  salad  with  an  ancient  Incan  influence  by  combining  cooked  corn  kernels,  quinoa,  tomatoes,  green  peppers 
and  red  kidney  beans. 

• Use  polenta  (a  type  of  cornmeal)  as  a pizza  crust  for  a healthy  pizza. 

• Add  corn  kernels  and  diced  tomatoes  to  guacamole  to  give  it  extra  zing. 

• Adding  corn  to  soup,  whether  it  chili  or  chowder,  enhances  the  soup's  hardiness,  let  alone  its  nutritional  profile. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Corn 

• Hot  Polenta  Breakfast  with  Dried  Fruit  Compote 

• 15-Minute  Black  Bean  Salad 

• Kidney  Bean  Salad  with  Mediterranean  Dressing 

• Zestv  Mexican  Soup 

• Black  Bean  Chili 

• Polenta.  Onion  and  Gorgonzola  Pizza 

• Healthy  Creamed  Corn 

• Steamed  Mexican  Corn  on  the  Cob 


Safety 

Genetically  Modified  Corn 

Conventionally  grown  corn  is  one  of  the  foods  that  is  often  grown  from  genetically  modified  seeds.  For  helpful  information 
about  genetically  modified  foods — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article,  What  Is  Your  Approach 
to  Genetically  Modified  Foods? 


Other  Controversies 

Some  animal  foods  and  some  plants  foods  have  been  the  subject  of  ongoing  controversy  that  extends  well  beyond  the  scope  of 
food,  nutrient-richness,  and  personal  health.  This  controversy  often  involves  environmental  issues,  or  issues  related  to  the 
natural  lifestyle  of  animals  or  to  the  native  habitat  for  plants.  Corn  has  been  a topic  of  ongoing  controversy  in  this  regard.  Our 
Controversial  Foods  O & A will  provide  you  with  more  detailed  information  about  these  issues. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Corn,  yellow,  cooked 

1.00  each 

Calories:  74 

77.00  grams 

GI:  medium 

DRI/DV 

Nutrient 

World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 


pantothenic  acid 

0.61  mg 

12 

3.0 

good 

phosphorus 

59.29  mg 

8 

2.1 

good 

vitamin  B3 

1.30  mg 

8 

2.0 

good 

fiber 

1-85  g 

7 

1.8 

good 

maneanese 

0.13  mg 

7 

1.6 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.11  mg 

6 

1.6 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

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Thakkar  SK  and  Failla  ML.  Bioaccessibility  of  pro-vitamin  A carotenoids  is  minimally  affected  by  non  pro-vitamin  a 
xanthophylls  in  maize  (Zea  mays  sp.).  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2008  Dec  1 0;56(23):  1 1 44 1 -6.  2008. 

United  States  Department  of  Agriculture.  World  Agricultural  Supply  and  Demand  Estimates.  Office  of  the  Chief 
Economist,  Economic  Research  Service.  WASDE  2001;495.  2011. 

Valencia  Zavala  MP,  Vega  Robledo  GB,  Sanchez,  et  al.  Maize  (Zea  mays):  allergen  or  toleragen?  Participation  of  the 
cereal  in  allergic  disease  and  positivity  incidence  in  cutaneous  tests.  Rev  Alerg  Mex.  2006  Nov-Dec;53(6):207-ll.  2006. 


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Cucumbers 


Cucumbers  are  scientifically  known  as  Cucumis  sativus  and  belong  to  the  same  botanical  family  as  melons  (including 
watermelon  and  cantaloupe)  and  squashes  (including  summer  squash,  winter  squash,  zucchini  and  pumpkin).  Commercial 
production  of  cucumbers  is  usually  divided  into  two  types.  "Slicing  cucumbers"  are  produced  for  fresh  consumption.  "Pickling 
cucumbers"  are  produced  for  eventual  processing  into  pickles.  Slicing  cucumbers  are  usually  larger  and  have  thicker  skins, 
while  pickling  cucumbers  are  usually  smaller  and  have  thinner  skins. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Cucumbers 

• Researchers  have  long  been  familiar  with  the  presence  of  unique  polyphenols  in  plants  called  lignans,  and  these  health- 
benefiting  substances  have  been  studied  extensively  in  cruciferous  vegetables  (like  broccoli  or  cabbage)  and  allium 
vegetables  (like  onion  or  garlic).  Recent  studies,  however,  have  begun  to  pay  more  attention  to  the  lignan  content  of 
other  vegetables,  including  cucumbers.  Cucumbers  are  now  known  to  contain  lariciresinol,  pinoresinol,  and 
secoisolariciresinol — three  lignans  that  have  a strong  history  of  research  in  connection  with  reduced  risk  of 
cardiovascular  disease  as  well  as  several  cancer  types,  including  breast,  uterine,  ovarian,  and  prostate  cancers. 

• Fresh  extracts  from  cucumbers  have  recently  been  show  to  have  both  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  properties. 
While  research  in  this  area  must  still  be  considered  preliminary — since  it's  only  been  conducted  on  animals  in  a lab 
setting — the  findings  are  clear  and  consistent.  Substances  in  fresh  cucumber  extracts  help  scavenge  free  radicals,  help 
improve  antioxidant  status,  inhibit  the  activity  of  pro-inflammatory  enzymes  like  cyclo-oxygenase  2 (COX-2),  and 
prevent  overproduction  of  nitric  oxide  in  situations  where  it  could  pose  health  risks.  It's  highly  likely  that  cucumber 
phytonutrients  play  a key  role  in  providing  these  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits,  supporting  health  alongside 
of  the  conventional  antioxidant  nutrients — including  vitamin  C,  beta-carotene,  and  manganese — of  which  cucumbers  are 
an  important  source. 

• As  a member  of  the  Cucurbitaceae  family  of  plants,  cucumbers  are  a rich  source  of  triterpene  phytonutrients  called 
cucurbitacins.  Cucurbitacins  A,  B,  C,  D and  E are  all  contained  in  fresh  cucumber.  They  have  been  the  subject  of  active 
and  ongoing  research  to  determine  the  extent  and  nature  of  their  anti-cancer  properties.  Scientists  have  already 
determined  that  several  different  signaling  pathways  (for  example,  the  JAK-STAT  and  MAPK  pathways)  required  for 
cancer  cell  development  and  survival  can  be  blocked  by  activity  of  cucurbitacins.  We  expect  to  see  human  studies  that 
confirm  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  cucumbers  in  the  everyday  diet. 


Cucumber,  sliced,  raw 
1.00  cup 
(104.00  grams) 

Calories:  16 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

19% 

molybdenum 

12% 

pantothenic  acid 

5% 

notassium 

4% 

phosphorus 

4% 

copper 

4% 

manganese 

4% 

vitamin  C 

4% 

vitamin  B 1 

3% 

biotin 

3% 

magnesium 

3% 

Health  Benefits 

Cucumbers  have  not  received  as  much  press  as  other  vegetables  in  terms  of  health  benefits,  but  this  widely  cultivated  food 
provides  us  with  a unique  combination  of  nutrients.  At  the  top  of  the  phytonutrient  list  for  cucumbers  are  its  cucurbitacins, 
lignans,  and  flavonoids.  These  three  types  of  phytonutrients  found  in  cucumbers  provide  us  with  valuable  antioxidant,  anti- 
inflammatory,  and  anti-cancer  benefits.  Specific  phytonutrients  provided  by  cucumbers  include 


Flavonoids 


• apigenm 

• a luleolin 

• a quercetin 

• a kaempferol 

Lignans 

• pinoresinol 

• lariciresinol 

• secoisolariciresinol 

Triterpenes 

• cucurbitacin  A 

• cucurbitacin  B 

• cucurbitacin  C 

• cucurbitacin  D 

Details  about  the  best-researched  health  benefits  of  cucumbers  are  provided  in  the  paragraphs  below. 

Antioxidant  & Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

Cucumbers  are  a valuable  source  of  conventional  antioxidant  nutrients  including  vitamin  C,  beta-carotene,  and  manganese.  In 
addition,  cucumbers  contain  numerous  flavonoid  antioxidants,  including  quercetin,  apigenin,  luteolin,  and  kaempferol.  In 
animal  studies,  fresh  extracts  from  cucumber  have  been  shown  to  provide  specific  antioxidant  benefits,  including  increased 
scavenging  of  free  radicals  and  increased  overall  antioxidant  capacity.  Fresh  cucumber  extracts  have  also  been  shown  to  reduce 
unwanted  inflammation  in  animal  studies.  Cucumber  accomplishes  this  task  by  inhibiting  activity  of  pro-inflammatory 
enzymes  like  cyclo-oxygenase  2 (COX-2),  and  by  preventing  overproduction  of  nitric  oxide  in  situations  where  it  could 
increase  the  likelihood  of  excessive  inflammation. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

Research  on  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  cucumber  is  still  in  its  preliminary  stage  and  has  been  restricted  thus  far  to  lab  and 
animal  studies.  Interestingly,  however,  many  pharmaceutical  companies  are  actively  studying  one  group  of  compounds  found 
in  cucumber — called  cucurbitacins — in  the  hope  that  their  research  may  lead  to  development  of  new  anti-cancer  drugs. 
Cucurbitacins  belong  to  a large  family  of  phytonutrients  called  triterpenes.  Cucurbitacins  A,  B,  C,  D and  E have  all  been 
identified  within  fresh  cucumber.  Researchers  have  determined  that  several  different  signaling  pathways  (for  example,  the 
JAK-STAT  and  MAPK  pathways)  required  for  cancer  cell  development  and  cancer  cell  survival  can  be  blocked  by  activity  of 
cucurbitacins.  Eventually,  we  expect  to  see  human  studies  that  confirm  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  cucumbers  when  consumed 
in  a normal,  everyday  meal  plan. 

A second  group  of  cucumber  phytonutrients  known  to  provide  anti-cancer  benefits  are  its  lignans.  The  lignans  pinoresinol, 
lariciresinol,  and  secoisolariciresinol  have  all  been  identified  within  cucumber.  Interestingly,  the  role  of  these  plant  lignans  in 
cancer  protection  involves  the  role  of  bacteria  in  our  digestive  tract.  When  we  consume  plant  lignans  like  those  found  in 
cucumber,  bacteria  in  our  digestive  tract  take  hold  of  these  lignans  and  convert  them  into  enterolignans  like  enterodiol  and 
enterolactone.  Enterolignans  have  the  ability  to  bind  onto  estrogen  receptors  and  can  have  both  pro-estrogenic  and  anti- 
estrogenic effects.  Reduced  risk  of  estrogen-related  cancers,  including  cancers  of  the  breast,  ovary,  uterus,  and  prostate  has 
been  associated  with  intake  of  dietary  lignans  from  plant  foods  like  cucumber. 

Description 

Even  though  long,  dark  green,  smooth-skinned  garden  cucumbers  are  familiar  vegetables  in  the  produce  sections  of  most 
groceries,  cucumbers  actually  come  in  a wide  variety  of  colors,  sizes,  shapes  and  textures.  You'll  find  white,  yellow,  and  even 
orange-colored  cucumbers,  and  they  may  be  short,  slightly  oval,  or  even  round  in  shape.  Their  skins  can  be  smooth  and  thin,  or 
thick  and  rough.  In  a technical  sense,  cucumbers  are  actually  fruits,  not  vegetables.  (Fruits  are  parts  of  flowering  plants  that 
come  from  the  ovary.)  But  we've  become  accustomed  to  thinking  and  referring  to  cucumbers  as  vegetables. 

All  cucumbers  belong  to  the  botanical  plant  family  called  Curcubitaceae.  This  broad  family  of  plants  includes  melons  and 
squashes.  The  cucumbers  we're  most  familiar  with  in  the  grocery  store  belong  to  the  specific  genus/species  group,  Cucumis 


sativus. 


While  there  are  literally  hundreds  of  different  varieties  of  Cucumis  sativus,  virtually  all  can  be  divided  into  two  basic  types: 
slicing  and  pickling.  Slicing  cucumbers  include  all  varieties  that  are  cultivated  for  consumption  in  fresh  form.  In  the  United 
States,  commonly  planted  varieties  of  slicing  cucumber  include  Dasher,  Conquistador,  Slicemaster,  Victory,  Comet,  Burpee 
Hybrid,  and  Sprint.  These  varieties  tend  to  be  fairly  large  in  size  and  thick-skinned.  Their  size  makes  them  easier  for  slicing, 
and  their  thick  skin  makes  them  easier  to  transport  in  whole  food  form  without  damage.  (In  many  other  countries,  however, 
slicing  cucumbers  may  be  smaller  in  size  and  may  be  much  more  thinly  skinned.) 

Pickling  cucumbers  include  all  varieties  that  are  cultivated  not  for  consumption  in  fresh  form,  but  for  processing  into  pickles. 

In  the  United  States,  commonly  planted  varieties  of  pickling  cucumber  include  Royal,  Calypso,  Pioneer,  Bounty,  Regal,  Duke, 
and  Blitz.  Some  of  these  pickling  varieties  are  black-spine  types  (in  reference  to  the  texture  of  their  outer  skin)  and  some  are 
white-spine.  While  pickling  cucumbers  can  always  be  eaten  fresh,  their  smaller  size  and  generally  thinner  skins  make  them 
easier  to  ferment  and  preserve/jar. 

Pickling  is  a process  than  can  be  used  for  many  different  foods.  It's  not  limited  to  cucumbers  and  or  even  to  the  vegetable  food 
group.  In  general,  the  word  "pickling"  refers  to  a method  of  preventing  food  spoilage  that  involves  soaking  in  a liquid  and/or 
fermenting. 

While  the  language  used  to  describe  pickles  can  be  very  confusing,  there  are  only  two  basic  types  of  pickles:  fermented  and 
non-fermented.  Fermenting  is  a process  in  which  fresh  foods  (in  this  case  cucumbers)  are  allowed  to  soak  in  a solution  for  an 
extended  period  of  time  that  allows  microorganisms  to  make  changes  in  the  food.  Among  these  changes  is  a build-up  of  lactic 
acid  that  serves  to  protect  the  pickles  from  spoilage.  When  fermented  in  an  appropriate  solution,  fresh  foods  like  cucumbers 
can  be  transformed  in  a way  that  greatly  increases  their  shelf  life.  Cucumbers  are  typically  fermented  in  brine  (water  that's 
been  highly  saturated  in  salt).  In  fact,  the  word  "pickle"  actually  comes  from  the  Dutch  "pekel"  meaning  brine.  Alongside  of 
salt,  pickling  brines  often  contain  other  ingredients,  including  vinegar,  dill  seed,  garlic,  and  lime  (calcium  hydroxide  or  calcium 
oxide).  "Dill  pickles"  get  their  name  from  the  addition  of  dill  seed  to  the  brine.  "Kosher  dills"  are  brined  not  only  with  dill,  but 
also  with  garlic.  (One  important  note  in  this  regard:  "kosher  dills"  are  not  necessarily  pickled  cucumbers  that  have  been 
prepared  according  to  kosher  dietary  laws.  The  word  "kosher"  in  their  name  often  refers  to  a general  style  of  preparation  in 
which  a good  bit  of  garlic  has  been  used  in  the  brining  process.  If  you  are  seeking  pickles  that  have  been  prepared  according  to 
kosher  dietary  laws,  look  for  "certified  kosher"  on  the  label,  not  just  "kosher"  or  "kosher-style.") 

Fermented  pickles  are  often  called  "brined  pickles,"  but  here's  where  confusion  can  set  it.  These  two  terms  aren't  truly 
interchangeable  since  some  brined  pickles  are  "quick  brined"  and  haven't  been  given  time  for  fermentation.  When  pickles  are 
"quick  brined,"  the  brining  solution  usually  contains  a significant  amount  of  vinegar,  and  it's  this  added  vinegar  that  prevents 
the  pickles  from  spoiling,  not  build  up  of  lactic  acid  through  the  microbial  fermentation  process.  Non-fermented  pickles  of  all 
kinds — often  referred  to  as  "quick  pickled" — rely  on  the  addition  of  vinegar  or  another  highly-acidic  solution  to  prevent 
spoilage.  "Quick  pickling"  with  the  use  of  vinegar  can  be  accomplished  in  a matter  of  days.  Pickling  by  fermentation  usually 
takes  a minimum  of  several  weeks.  If  you  would  like  to  learn  more  about  how  pickled  cucumbers  compare  in  nutritional  value 
to  raw  cucumbers,  see  this  O+A  . 

While  genetically  engineered  cucumbers  do  exist,  genetic  engineering  is  not  responsible  for  the  existence  of  seedless  varieties 
of  cucumbers.  Through  a natural  process  called  parthenogenesis,  cucumber  plants  can  fruit  without  pollen.  In  the  absence  of 
pollen,  seeds  do  not  develop  in  the  fruit.  While  some  people  have  a personal  preference  for  seedless  cucumbers,  it's  worth 
remembering  that  cucumber  seeds  are  rich  source  of  cucumber  nutrients  that  are  sometimes  absent  in  the  pulp  and  skin. 

Sometimes  you  will  hear  the  word  "gherkin"  being  used  to  refer  to  cucumbers  and  pickles.  This  word  can  be  used  to  describe  a 
variety  of  cucumber  that  comes  from  the  same  plant  species  (Cucumis  sativus)  that  is  the  source  of  most  other  cucumber 
varieties  found  in  the  grocery.  But  the  term  "gherkin"  can  also  be  used  to  describe  a cucumber  variety  that  comes  from  a 
different  species  of  plant  ( Cucumis  anguiria). 

History 

Cucumber  plants  naturally  thrive  in  both  temperate  and  tropical  environments,  and  generally  require  temperatures  between  60- 
90°F/15-33°C.  For  this  reason,  they  are  native  to  many  regions  of  the  world.  In  evolutionary  terms,  the  first  cucumbers  were 
likely  to  have  originated  in  Western  Asia  (and  perhaps  more  specifically  in  India)  or  parts  of  the  Middle  East.  Cucumbers  are 
mentioned  in  the  legend  of  Gilgamesh — a Uruk  king  who  lived  around  2500  BC  in  what  is  now  Iraq  and  Kuwait.  It  was 
approximately  3,300  years  later  when  cucumber  cultivation  spread  to  parts  of  Europe,  including  France.  And  it  was  not  until 
the  time  of  the  European  colonists  that  cucumbers  finally  appeared  in  North  America  in  the  1500's. 


Today,  the  states  of  Florida  and  California  are  able  to  provide  U.S.  consumers  with  fresh  cucumbers  for  most  of  the  year  (from 
March  through  November).  Imported  cucumbers  from  Mexico  are  commonly  found  in  groceries  during  the  winter  months  of 
December,  January,  and  February.  In  California  alone,  about  6,600  acres  are  planted  with  slicing  cucumber  varieties  and  4,400 
with  pickling  cucumbers.  Worldwide,  China  is  by  far  the  largest  producer  of  cucumbers,  and  provides  about  two-thirds  of  the 
global  supply.  Iran,  Turkey,  Russia,  Egypt,  Spain,  Mexico,  the  Ukraine,  Japan,  Indonesia,  and  the  U.S.  all  participate  in  the 
world  cucumber  market,  with  an  especially  high  number  of  exports  coming  from  Iran,  Mexico,  and  Spain.  Annual  production 
of  cucumbers  worldwide  is  approximately  84  billion  pounds. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Since  cucumbers  can  be  very  sensitive  to  heat,  you'll  be  on  safer  grounds  if  you  choose  those  that  are  displayed  in  refrigerated 
cases  in  the  market.  They  should  be  firm,  rounded  at  their  edges,  and  their  color  should  be  a bright  medium  to  dark  green. 
Avoid  cucumbers  that  are  yellow,  puffy,  have  sunken  water-soaked  areas,  or  are  wrinkled  at  their  tips. 

We  address  the  issue  of  seeds  and  skins  in  our  "Healthiest  Way  of  Preparing  Cucumbers"  section  below.  But  during  the 
selection  process,  you  may  find  it  helpful  to  know  that  thin-skinned  cucumbers  will  generally  have  fewer  seeds  than  those  that 
are  thick-skinned. 

Cucumbers  should  be  stored  in  the  refrigerator  where  they  will  keep  for  several  days.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  cucumber — for 
example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration.  If  you  do  not  use  the  entire  cucumber 
during  one  meal,  place  it  in  a tightly  sealed  container  so  that  it  does  not  become  dried  out.  For  maximum  quality,  cucumber 
should  be  used  within  one  or  two  days.  Cucumbers  should  not  be  left  out  at  room  temperature  for  too  long  as  this  will  cause 
them  to  wilt  and  become  limp. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Use  half-inch  thick  cucumber  slices  as  petite  serving  "dishes"  for  chopped  vegetable  salads. 

• Mix  diced  cucumbers  with  sugar  snap  peas  and  mint  leaves  and  toss  with  rice  wine  vinaigrette. 

• For  refreshing  cold  gazpacho  soup  that  takes  five  minutes  or  less  to  make,  simply  puree  cucumbers,  tomatoes,  green 
peppers  and  onions,  then  add  salt  and  pepper  to  taste. 

• Add  diced  cucumber  to  tuna  fish  or  chicken  salad  recipes. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Cucumbers 

• Healthy  Chefs  Salad  with  Walnuts  and  French  Dressing 

• Healthy  Chicken  Caesar  Salad 

• Healthy  Veggie  Salad 

• Salad  Nicoise 

• Salmon.  Cucumber.  Dill  Salad 

• Seared  Tuna  Salad 

• Seafood  Gazpacho 

• Salmon  with  Cucumber  Chili  Salad 

• 5-Minute  Cold  Cucumber  Salad 

• Cucumber  Seaweed  Salad 

• Minted  Garbanzo  Bean  Salad 

• Vegetable  Appetizer  2 

• Vegetable  Appetizer  4 

• Garlic  Dip  with  Crudites 

• Tahini  and  Crudites 


Safety 

Cucumbers  and  Wax  Coatings 

As  described  above  in  our  Healthiest  Way  of  Preparing  Cucumbers  section,  cucumbers  (like  other  fragile  vegetables)  may  be 
waxed  to  protect  them  from  bruising  during  shipping.  Both  conventionally  grown  and  organically  grown  cucumbers  may  be 


waxed.  However,  the  only  waxes  that  can  be  used  on  organically  grown  cucumbers  are  non-synthetic  waxes,  and  these  waxes 
must  be  free  of  all  chemical  contaminants  that  are  prohibited  under  organic  regulations.  Conventionally  grown  cucumbers  may 
be  waxed  with  synthetic  waxes  that  contain  unwanted  chemical  contaminants.  In  addition,  other  compounds,  including  ethyl 
alcohol,  milk  casein,  and  soaps  may  be  added  to  synthetic  waxes  for  consistency,  "film"  formation,  and  improved  flow  of  wax 
onto  the  cucumber.  Individuals  concerned  about  any  of  these  factors  would  do  best  to  purchase  organically  grown  cucumbers. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Cucumber,  sliced,  raw 

1.00  cup  Calories:  16 

104.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

17.06  meg 

19 

21.9 

excellent 

molybdenum 

5.20  meg 

12 

13.3 

excellent 

nantothenic  acid 

0.27  mg 

5 

6.2 

very  good 

cooper 

0.04  mg 

4 

5.1 

good 

ootassium 

152.88  mg 

4 

5.0 

good 

maneanese 

0.08  mg 

4 

4.6 

good 

vitamin  C 

2.91  mg 

4 

4.5 

good 

ohosDhoms 

24.96  mg 

4 

4.1 

good 

maunesium 

13.52  mg 

3 

3.9 

good 

biotin 

0.94  meg 

3 

3.6 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.03  mg 

3 

2.9 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Abiodun  OA.  Comparative  Studies  on  Nutritional  Composition  of  Four  Melon  Seeds  Varieties.  Pakistan  Journal  of 
Nutrition  Year:  2010  Vol:  9 Issue:  9 Pages/record  No.:  905-908.  2010. 

• Ghebretinsae  AG,  Thulin  M and  Barber  JC.  Relationships  of  cucumbers  and  melons  unraveled:  molecular  phylogenetics 
of  Cucumis  and  related  genera  (Benincaseae,  Cucurbitaceae).  Am  J Bot.  2007  Jul;94(7):  1256-66.  2007. 

• Hong  SH,  Choi  SA,  Yoon  H,  et  al.  Screening  of  Cucumis  sativus  as  a new  arsenic-accumulating  plant  and  its  arsenic 
accumulation  in  hydroponic  culture.  Environ  Geochem  Health.  2011  Jan;33  Suppl  1:143-9.  Epub  2010  Oct  31.  2011. 

• Kumar  D,  Kumar  S,  Singh  J,  et  al.  Free  Radical  Scavenging  and  Analgesic  Activities  of  Cucumis  sativus  L.  Fruit 
Extract.  J Young  Pharm.  2010  Oct;2(4):365-8.  2010. 

• Lee  DH,  Iwanski  GB,  and  Thoennissen  NH.  Cucurbitacin:  ancient  compound  shedding  new  light  on  cancer  treatment. 
Scientific  World  Journal.  2010  Mar  5;10:413-8.  Review.  2010. 

• Martinez  L,  Thornsbury  S,  and  Nagai  T.  National  and  international  factors  in  pickle  markets.  Agricultural  Economics 
Reports,  No,  628,  October  2006.  Department  of  Agricultural  Economics,  Michigan  State  University,  East  Lansing,  MI. 


2006. 

Milder  IEJ,  Arts  ICW,  van  de  Putte  B et  al.  Lignan  contents  of  Dutch  plant  foods:  a database  including  lariciresinol, 
pinoresinol,  secoisolariciresinol  and  matairesinol.  Br  J Nutr  2005,  93:393-402.  2005. 

Nema  NK,  Maity  N,  Sarkar  B et  al.  Cucumis  sativus  fruit-potential  antioxidant,  anti-hyaluronidase,  and  anti-elastase 
agent.  Arch  Dermatol  Res.  2011  May;303(4):247-52.  Epub  2010  Dec  14.  2011. 

Rios  JL,  Recio  MC,  Escandell  JM,  et  al.  Inhibition  of  transcription  factors  by  plant-derived  compounds  and  their 
implications  in  inflammation  and  cancer.  Curr  Pharm  Des.  2009;  1 5(1 1 ):  12 12-37.  Review.  2009. 

Rios  JL.  Effects  of  triterpenes  on  the  immune  system.  J Ethnopharmacol.  2010  Mar  2;  128(1 ):  1-14.  Epub  2010  Jan  14. 
Review.  2010. 

Schrader  WL,  Aguiar  JL,  and  Mayberry  KS.  Cucumber  Production  in  California.  Publication  8050.  (2002).  University  of 
California  Agricultural  and  Natural  Resources,  Davis,  CA.  2002. 

Sebastian  P,  Schaefer  H,  Telford  IR,  et  al.  Cucumber  (Cucumis  sativus)  and  melon  (C.  melo)  have  numerous  wild 
relatives  in  Asia  and  Australia,  and  the  sister  species  of  melon  is  from  Australia.  Proc  Natl  Acad  Sci  USA.  2010  Aug 
10;1 07(32):  14269-73.  Epub  2010  Jul  23.  2010. 

Tang  J,  Meng  X,  Liu  H et  al.  Antimicrobial  activity  of  sphingolipids  isolated  from  the  stems  of  cucumber  (Cucumis 
sativus  L.).  Molecules.  2010  Dec  15;15(12):9288-97.  2010. 

Thoennissen  NH,  Iwanski  GB  and  Doan  NB.  Cucurbitacin  B Induces  Apoptosis  by  Inhibition  of  the  JAK/STAT  Pathway 
and  Potentiates  Antiproliferative  Effects  of  Gemcitabine  on  Pancreatic  Cancer  Cells.  Cancer  Res  2009;69(14):5876 — 84. 
2009. 


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Eggplant 

About  Eggplant 

Long  prized  for  its  deeply  purple,  glossy  beauty  as  well  as  its  unique  taste  and  texture,  eggplants  are  now  available  in  markets 
throughout  the  year,  but  they  are  at  their  very  best  from  August  through  October  when  they  are  in  season. 

Eggplants  belong  to  the  nightshade  family  of  vegetables,  which  also  includes  tomatoes,  bell  peppers  and  potatoes.  They  grow 
in  a manner  much  like  tomatoes,  hanging  from  the  vines  of  a plant  that  grows  several  feet  in  height.  While  the  different 
varieties  do  range  slightly  in  taste  and  texture,  one  can  generally  describe  the  eggplant  as  having  a pleasantly  bitter  taste  and 
spongy  texture. 


Calories:  35 
GI:  low 


Nutrient  DRI/DV 


fiber 

10% 

copper 

7% 

vitamin  B 1 

7% 

manganese 

6% 

vitamin  B6 

5% 

vitamin  B3 

4% 

vitamin  K 

3% 

potassium 

3% 

folate 

3% 

Eggplant,  cubed,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(99.00  grams) 


Health  Benefits 

In  addition  to  featuring  a host  of  vitamins  and  minerals,  eggplant  also  contains  important  phytonutrients,  many  which  have 
antioxidant  activity.  Phytonutrients  contained  in  eggplant  include  phenolic  compounds,  such  caffeic  and  chlorogenic  acid,  and 
flavonoids,  such  as  nasunin. 

Brain  Food 

Research  on  eggplant  has  focused  on  an  anthocyanin  phytonutrient  found  in  eggplant  skin  called  nasunin.  Nasunin  is  a potent 
antioxidant  and  free  radical  scavenger  that  has  been  shown  to  protect  cell  membranes  from  damage.  In  animal  studies,  nasunin 
has  been  found  to  protect  the  lipids  (fats)  in  brain  cell  membranes.  Cell  membranes  are  almost  entirely  composed  of  lipids  and 
are  responsible  for  protecting  the  cell  from  free  radicals,  letting  nutrients  in  and  wastes  out,  and  receiving  instructions  from 
messenger  molecules  that  tell  the  cell  which  activities  it  should  perform. 

Rich  in  Phenolic  Antioxidant  Compounds 

Researchers  at  the  US  Agricultural  Service  in  Beltsville,  Maryland,  have  found  that  eggplants  are  rich  sources  of  phenolic 
compounds  that  function  as  antioxidants.  Plants  form  such  compounds  to  protect  themselves  against  oxidative  stress  from 
exposure  to  the  elements,  as  well  as  from  infection  by  bacteria  and  fungi. 

The  good  news  concerning  eggplant  is  that  the  predominant  phenolic  compound  found  in  all  varieties  tested  is  chlorogenic 
acid,  which  is  one  of  the  most  potent  free  radical  scavengers  found  in  plant  tissues.  Benefits  attributed  to  chlorogenic  acid 
include  antimutagenic  (anti-cancer),  antimicrobial,  anti-LDL  (bad  cholesterol)  and  antiviral  activities. 

ARS  researchers  studied  seven  eggplant  cultivars  grown  commercially  in  the  U.S.  and  a diverse  collection  of  exotic  and  wild 
eggplants  from  other  counties.  In  addition  to  chlorogenic  acid,  they  found  13  other  phenolic  acids  present  at  significantly 
varying  levels  in  the  commercial  cultivars,  although  chlorogenic  acid  was  the  predominant  phenolic  compound  in  all  of  them. 
Black  Magic — a commercial  eggplant  cultivar  representative  of  U.S.  market  types — was  found  to  have  nearly  three  times  the 
amount  of  antioxidant  phenolics  as  the  other  eggplant  cultivars  that  were  studied.  In  addition  to  their  nutritive  potential,  the 
phenolic  acids  in  eggplant  are  responsible  for  some  eggplants'  bitter  taste  and  the  browing  that  results  when  their  flesh  is  cut. 


An  enzyme  called  polyphenol  oxidase  triggers  a phenolic  reaction  that  produces  brown  pigments.  Scientists  have  begun  work 
on  developing  eggplant  cultivars  with  an  optimal  balance  of  phenolics  to  ensure  both  optimal  nutritional  value  and  pleasing 
taste. 

Cardiovascular  Health  and  Free  Radical  Protection 

When  laboratory  animals  with  high  cholesterol  were  given  eggplant  juice,  their  blood  cholesterol,  the  cholesterol  in  their  artery 
walls  and  the  cholesterol  in  their  aortas  (the  aorta  is  the  artery  that  returns  blood  from  the  heart  back  into  circulation  into  the 
body)  was  significantly  reduced,  while  the  walls  of  their  blood  vessels  relaxed,  improving  blood  flow.  These  positive  effects 
were  likely  due  not  only  to  nasunin  but  also  to  several  other  terpene  phytonutrients  in  eggplant. 

Nasunin  is  not  only  a potent  free-radical  scavenger,  but  is  also  an  iron  chelator.  Although  iron  is  an  essential  nutrient  and  is 
necessary  for  oxygen  transport,  normal  immune  function  and  collagen  synthesis,  too  much  iron  is  not  a good  thing.  Excess  iron 
increases  free  radical  production  and  is  associated  with  an  increased  risk  of  heart  disease  and  cancer.  Menstruating  women, 
who  lose  iron  every  month  in  their  menstrual  flow,  are  unlikely  to  be  at  risk,  but  in  postmenopausal  women  and  men,  iron, 
which  is  not  easily  excreted,  can  accumulate.  By  chelating  iron,  nasunin  lessens  free  radical  formation  with  numerous 
beneficial  results,  including  protecting  blood  cholesterol  (which  is  also  a type  of  lipid  or  fat)  from  peroxidation;  preventing 
cellular  damage  that  can  promote  cancer;  and  lessening  free  radical  damage  in  joints,  which  is  a primary  factor  in  rheumatoid 
arthritis. 

Description 

Eggplant,  or  aubergine  as  it  is  called  in  France,  is  a vegetable  long  prized  for  its  beauty  as  well  as  its  unique  taste  and  texture. 
Eggplants  belong  to  the  plant  family  of  Solanaceae,  also  commonly  known  as  nightshades,  and  are  kin  to  the  tomato,  bell 
pepper  and  potato.  Eggplants  grow  in  a manner  much  like  tomatoes,  hanging  from  the  vines  of  a plant  that  grows  several  feet 
in  height. 

One  of  the  most  popular  varieties  of  eggplant  in  North  America  looks  like  a pear-shaped  egg,  a characteristic  from  which  its 
name  is  derived.  The  skin  is  glossy  and  deep  purple  in  color,  while  the  flesh  is  cream  colored  and  spongy  in  consistency. 
Contained  within  the  flesh  are  seeds  arranged  in  a conical  pattern. 

In  addition  to  this  variety,  eggplant  is  also  available  in  a cornucopia  of  other  colors  including  lavender,  jade  green,  orange,  and 
yellow-white,  as  well  as  in  sizes  and  shapes  that  range  from  that  of  a small  tomato  to  a large  zucchini. 

While  the  different  varieties  do  vary  slightly  in  taste  and  texture,  one  can  generally  describe  the  eggplant  as  having  a pleasantly 
bitter  taste  and  spongy  texture.  In  many  recipes,  eggplant  fulfills  the  role  of  being  a complementary  ingredient  that  balances 
the  surrounding  flavors  of  the  other  more  pronounced  ingredients. 

History 

The  ancient  ancestors  of  eggplant  grew  wild  in  India  and  were  first  cultivated  in  China  in  the  5th  century  B.C.  Eggplant  was 
introduced  to  Africa  before  the  Middle  Ages  and  then  into  Italy,  the  country  with  which  it  has  long  been  associated,  in  the  14th 
century.  It  subsequently  spread  throughout  Europe  and  the  Middle  East  and,  centuries  later,  was  brought  to  the  Western 
Hemisphere  by  European  explorers.  Today,  Italy,  Turkey,  Egypt,  China  and  Japan  are  the  leading  growers  of  eggplant. 

Although  it  has  a long  and  rich  history,  eggplant  did  not  always  hold  the  revered  place  in  food  culture  that  it  does  today, 
especially  in  European  cuisines.  As  a result  of  the  overly  bitter  taste  of  the  early  varieties,  it  seems  that  people  also  felt  that  it 
had  a bitter  disposition — eggplant  held  the  undeserved  and  inauspicious  reputation  of  being  able  to  cause  insanity,  leprosy  and 
cancer. 

For  centuries  after  its  introduction  into  Europe,  eggplant  was  used  more  as  a decorative  garden  plant  than  as  a food.  Not  until 
new  varieties  were  developed  in  the  1 8th  century,  did  eggplant  lose  its  bitter  taste  and  bitter  reputation,  and  take  its  now 
esteemed  place  in  the  cuisines  of  many  European  countries,  including  Italy,  Greece,  Turkey  and  France. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  eggplants  that  are  firm  and  heavy  for  their  size.  Their  skin  should  be  smooth  and  shiny,  and  their  color,  whether  it  be 
purple,  white  or  green,  should  be  vivid.  They  should  be  free  of  discoloration,  scars,  and  braises,  which  usually  indicate  that  the 
flesh  beneath  has  become  damaged  and  possibly  decayed. 


The  stem  and  cap,  on  either  end  of  the  eggplant,  should  be  bright  green  in  color.  As  you  would  with  other  fruits  and  vegetables, 
avoid  purchasing  eggplant  that  has  been  waxed.  To  test  for  the  ripeness  of  an  eggplant,  gently  press  the  skin  with  the  pad  of 
your  thumb.  If  it  springs  back,  the  eggplant  is  ripe,  while  if  an  indentation  remains,  it  is  not. 

Although  they  look  hardy,  eggplants  are  actually  very  perishable  and  care  should  be  taken  in  their  storage.  Eggplants  are 
sensitive  to  both  heat  and  cold  and  should  ideally  be  stored  at  around  50  degrees  Fahrenheit  (10  degrees  Celsius).  Do  not  cut 
eggplant  before  you  store  it  as  it  perishes  quickly  once  its  skin  has  been  punctured  or  its  inner  flesh  exposed. 

Place  uncut  and  unwashed  eggplant  in  a plastic  bag  and  store  in  the  refrigerator  crisper  where  it  will  keep  for  a few  days.  If  it  is 
too  large  for  the  crisper,  do  not  try  to  force  it  in;  this  will  damage  the  skin  and  cause  the  eggplant  to  spoil  and  decay.  Instead, 
place  it  on  a shelf  within  the  refrigerator. 

If  you  purchase  eggplant  that  is  wrapped  in  plastic  film,  remove  it  as  soon  as  possible  since  it  will  inhibit  the  eggplant  from 
breathing  and  degrade  its  freshness. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• For  homemade  babaganoush,  puree  roasted  eggplant,  garlic,  tahini,  lemon  juice  and  olive  oil. 

• Use  it  as  a dip  for  vegetables  or  as  a sandwich  filling. 

• Mix  cubed  baked  eggplant  with  grilled  peppers,  lentils,  onions  and  garlic  and  top  with  balsamic  vinaigrette. 

• Stuff  miniature  Japanese  eggplants  with  a mixture  of  feta  cheese,  pine  nuts  and  roasted  peppers. 

• Add  eggplant  to  your  next  Indian  curry  stir-fry. 

Safety 

Eggplant  Belongs  to  the  Nightshade  Family 

Eggplant  is  one  of  the  vegetables  that  belong  to  the  nightshade  (Solanaceae)  family.  For  helpful  information  about  nightshade 
vegetables — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article,  Which  foods  are  classified  as  "nightshades." 
and  is  it  true  that  foods  from  this  group  can  potentially  contain  problematic  substances? 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Eggplant,  cubed,  cooked 

1.00  cup 

99.00  grams 

Calories:  35 
GI:  low 

Nutrient 

Amount 

DRI/DV 

(%) 

Nutrient 

Density 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

fiber 

2.47  g 

10 

5.1 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.08  mg 

7 

3.5 

very  good 

cooner 

0.06  mg 

7 

3.5 

very  good 

maneanese 

0.11  mg 

6 

2.9 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.09  mg 

5 

2.8 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.59  mg 

4 

1.9 

good 

notassium 

121.77  mg 

3 

1.8 

good 

folate 


13.86  meg 


li 


good 


vitamin  K 2.87  meg  3 1.7  good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Bliss  RM,  Elstein  D.  Scientists  get  under  eggplant's  skin.  ARS Magazine,  2004  January;  52  (1): 
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan04/skin01 04.htm.  2004. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Ensminger,  ME,  Kondale  JE,  Robson  JRK.  Foods  & Nutriton  Encyclopedia.  Pegus  Press,  Clovis, 
California.  1983. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Esminger  M.  K.  J.  e.  al.  Food  for  Health:  A Nutrition  Encyclopedia.  Clovis,  California:  Pegus  Press; 
1986.  1986.  PM1D:15210. 

• Fortin,  Francois,  Editorial  Director.  The  Visual  Foods  Encyclopedia.  Macmillan,  New  York.  1996. 

• Jorge  PA,  Neyra  LC,  Osaki  RM,  et  al.  Effect  of  eggplant  on  plasma  lipid  levels,  lipidic  peroxidation  and  reversion  of 
endothelial  dysfunction  in  experimental  hypercholesterolemia.  Arq  Bras  Cardiol.  1998  Feb;70(2):87-91.  1998. 

• Kimura  Y,  Araki  Y,  Takenaka  A,  Igarashi  K.  Protective  effects  of  dietary  nasunin  on  paraquat-induced  oxidative  stress  in 
rats.  Biosci  Biotechnol  Biochem.  1999  May;63(5):799-804.  1999. 

• Noda  Y,  Rneyuki  T,  Igarashi  K,  et  al.  Antioxidant  activity  of  nasunin,  an  anthocyanin  in  eggplant  peels.  Toxicology  2000 
Aug  7;148(2-3):119-23.  2000. 

• Whitaker  BD,  Stommel  JR.  Distribution  of  Hydroxycinnamic  Acid  Conjugates  in  Fruit  of  Commercial  Eggplant 
(Solanum  melongena  L.)  Cultivars.  J Agric  Food  Chem  2003  May  2 1 ;5 1(1 1):3448-54.  2003. 

• Whitaker  BD,  Stommel  JR.  Distribution  of  hydroxycinnamic  acid  conjugates  in  fruit  of  commercial  eggplant  (Solanum 
melongena  L.)  cultivars.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2003  May  21;  51(11):  3448-54.  2003. 

• Wood,  Rebecca.  The  Whole  Foods  Encyclopedia.  New  York,  NY:  Prentice-Hall  Press;  1988.  1988.  PMID:15220. 

privacy  policy  and  visitor  agreement  | who  we  are  | site  map  | what's  new 
For  education  only,  consult  a healthcare  practitioner  for  any  health  problems. 

© 2001-2016  The  George  Mateljan  Foundation,  All  Rights  Reserved 


Fennel 


Fennel  is  crunchy  and  slightly  sweet,  adding  a refreshing  contribution  to  the  ever  popular  Mediterranean  cuisine.  Most  often 
associated  with  Italian  cooking,  be  sure  to  add  this  to  your  selection  of  fresh  vegetables  from  the  autumn  through  early  spring 
when  it  is  readily  available  and  at  its  best. 

Fennel  is  composed  of  a white  or  pale  green  bulb  from  which  closely  superimposed  stalks  are  arranged.  The  stalks  are  topped 
with  feathery  green  leaves  near  which  flowers  grow  and  produce  fennel  seeds.  The  bulb,  stalk,  leaves  and  seeds  are  all  edible. 
Fennel  belongs  to  the  Umbellifereae  family  and  is  therefore  closely  related  to  parsley,  carrots,  dill  and  coriander. 


Fennel,  sliced,  raw 
1.00  cup 
(87.00  grams) 

Calories:  27 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  C 

14% 

1 

fiber 

11% 

potassium 

10% 

molybdenum 

10% 

manganese 

9% 

copper 

7% 

folate 

6% 

phosphorus 

6% 

magnesium 

4% 

calcium 

4% 

iron 

4% 

vitamin  B3 

4% 

pantothenic  acid 

4% 

Health  Benefits 

Unique  Phytonutrients  with  Antioxidant  and  Health-Promoting  Effects 

Like  many  of  its  fellow  spices,  fennel  contains  its  own  unique  combination  of  phytonutrients — including  the  flavonoids  rutin, 
quercitin,  and  various  kaempferol  glycosides — that  give  it  strong  antioxidant  activity.  The  phytonutrients  in  fennel  extracts 
compare  favorably  in  research  studies  to  BHT  ( butylated  hydroxytoluene),  a potentially  toxic  antioxidant  commonly  added  to 
processed  foods. 

The  most  fascinating  phytonutrient  compound  in  fennel,  however,  may  be  anethole — the  primary  component  of  its  volatile  oil. 
In  animal  studies,  the  anethole  in  fennel  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  reduce  inflammation  and  to  help  prevent  the  occurrence 
of  cancer.  Researchers  have  also  proposed  a biological  mechanism  that  may  explain  these  anti-inflammatory  and  anticancer 
effects.  This  mechanism  involves  the  shutting  down  of  a intercellular  signaling  system  called  tumor  necrosis  factor  (or  TNF)- 
mediated  signaling.  By  shutting  down  this  signaling  process,  the  anethole  in  fennel  prevents  activation  of  a potentially  strong 
gene-altering  and  inflammation-triggering  molecule  called  NF-kappaB.  The  volatile  oil  has  also  been  shown  to  be  able  to 
protect  the  liver  of  experimental  animals  from  toxic  chemical  injury. 

Antioxidant  Protection  and  Immune  Support  from  Vitamin  C 

In  addition  to  its  unusual  phytonutrients,  fennel  bulb  is  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  C.  Vitamin  C is  the  body's  primary 
water-soluble  antioxidant,  able  to  neutralize  free  radicals  in  all  aqueous  environments  of  the  body.  If  left  unchecked,  these  free 
radicals  cause  cellular  damage  that  results  in  the  pain  and  joint  deterioration  that  occurs  in  conditions  like  osteoarthritis  and 
rheumatoid  arthritis. 

The  vitamin  C found  in  fennel  bulb  is  directly  antimicrobial  and  is  also  needed  for  the  proper  function  of  the  immune  system. 

Fiber,  Folate  and  Potassium  for  Cardiovascular  and  Colon  Health 


As  a very  good  source  of  fiber,  fennel  bulb  may  help  to  reduce  elevated  cholesterol  levels.  And  since  fiber  also  removes 
potentially  carcinogenic  toxins  from  the  colon,  fennel  bulb  may  also  be  useful  in  preventing  colon  cancer.  In  addition  to  its 
fiber,  fennel  is  a very  good  source  of  folate,  a B vitamin  that  is  necessary  for  the  conversion  of  a dangerous  molecule  called 
homocysteine  into  other,  benign  molecules.  At  high  levels,  homocysteine,  which  can  directly  damage  blood  vessel  walls,  is 
considered  a significant  risk  factor  for  heart  attack  or  stroke.  Fennel  is  also  a very  good  source  of  potassium,  a mineral  that 
helps  lower  high  blood  pressure,  another  risk  factor  for  stroke  and  heart  attack. 

Description 

Fennel  is  a versatile  vegetable  that  plays  an  important  role  in  the  food  culture  of  many  European  nations,  especially  in  France 
and  Italy.  Its  esteemed  reputation  dates  back  to  the  earliest  times  and  is  reflected  in  its  mythological  traditions.  Greek  myths 
state  that  fennel  was  not  only  closely  associated  with  Dionysus,  the  Greek  god  of  food  and  wine,  but  that  a fennel  stalk  carried 
the  coal  that  passed  down  knowledge  from  the  gods  to  men. 

Fennel  is  composed  of  a white  or  pale  green  bulb  from  which  closely  superimposed  stalks  are  arranged.  The  stalks  are  topped 
with  feathery  green  leaves  near  which  flowers  grow  and  produce  fennel  seeds.  The  bulb,  stalk,  leaves  and  seeds  are  all  edible. 
Fennel  belongs  to  the  Umhellifereae  family  and  is  therefore  closely  related  to  parsley,  carrots,  dill  and  coriander. 

Fennel's  aromatic  taste  is  unique,  strikingly  reminiscent  of  licorice  and  anise,  so  much  so  that  fennel  is  often  mistakenly 
referred  to  as  anise  in  the  marketplace.  Fennel's  texture  is  similar  to  that  of  celery,  having  a crunchy  and  striated  texture. 

The  scientific  name  for  fennel  is  Foeniculum  vulgare. 

History 

Ever  since  ancient  times,  fennel  has  enjoyed  a rich  history.  The  ancient  Greeks  knew  fennel  by  the  name  "marathron";  it  grew 
in  the  field  in  which  one  of  the  great  ancient  battles  was  fought  and  which  was  subsequently  named  the  Battle  of  Marathon 
after  this  revered  plant.  Fennel  was  also  awarded  to  Pheidippides,  the  runner  who  delivered  the  news  of  the  Persian  invasion  to 
Sparta.  Greek  myths  also  hold  that  knowledge  was  delivered  to  man  by  the  gods  at  Olympus  in  a fennel  stalk  filled  with  coal. 
Fennel  was  revered  by  the  Greeks  and  the  Romans  for  its  medicinal  and  culinary  properties. 

Fennel  has  been  grown  throughout  Europe,  especially  areas  surrounding  the  Mediterranean  Sea,  and  the  Near  East  since 
ancient  times.  Today,  the  United  States,  France,  India  and  Russia  are  among  the  leading  cultivators  of  fennel. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Good  quality  fennel  will  have  bulbs  that  are  clean,  firm  and  solid,  without  signs  of  splitting,  bruising  or  spotting.  The  bulbs 
should  be  whitish  or  pale  green  in  color.  The  stalks  should  be  relatively  straight  and  closely  superimposed  around  the  bulb  and 
should  not  splay  out  to  the  sides  too  much.  Both  the  stalks  and  the  leaves  should  be  green  in  color.  There  should  be  no  signs  of 
flowering  buds  as  this  indicates  that  the  vegetable  is  past  maturity.  Fresh  fennel  should  have  a fragrant  aroma,  smelling  subtly 
of  licorice  or  anise.  Fennel  is  usually  available  from  autumn  through  early  spring. 

Store  fresh  fennel  in  the  refrigerator  crisper,  where  it  should  keep  fresh  for  about  four  days.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  fennel — 
for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration.  Yet,  it  is  best  to  consume  fennel  soon 
after  purchase  since  as  it  ages,  it  tends  to  gradually  lose  its  flavor.  While  fresh  fennel  can  be  frozen  after  first  being  blanched,  it 
seems  to  lose  much  of  its  flavor  during  this  process.  Dried  fennel  seeds  should  be  stored  in  an  airtight  container  in  a cool  and 
dry  location  where  they  will  keep  for  about  six  months.  Storing  fennel  seeds  in  the  refrigerator  will  help  to  keep  them  fresher 
longer. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Healthy  sauteed  fennel  and  onions  make  a wonderful  side  dish. 

• Combine  sliced  fennel  with  avocados,  and  oranges  for  a delightful  salad. 

• Braised  fennel  is  a wonderful  complement  to  scallops. 

• Next  time  you  are  looking  for  a new  way  to  adorn  your  sandwiches,  consider  adding  sliced  fennel  in  addition  to  the 
traditional  toppings  of  lettuce  and  tomato. 


Top  thinly  sliced  fennel  with  plain  yogurt  and  mint  leaves. 
Fennel  is  a match  made  in  Heaven  when  served  with  salmon. 


For  some  of  our  favorite  recipes,  click  Recipes. 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Fennel,  sliced,  raw 

1.00  cup  Calories:  27 

87.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  C 

10.44  mg 

14 

9.3 

excellent 

fiber 

2.70  g 

11 

7.2 

very  good 

notassium 

360.18  mg 

10 

6.9 

very  good 

molybdenum 

4.35  meg 

10 

6.5 

very  good 

manganese 

0.17  mg 

9 

5.7 

very  good 

Conner 

0.06  mg 

7 

4.4 

very  good 

phosphoms 

43.50  mg 

6 

4.1 

very  good 

folate 

23.49  meg 

6 

3.9 

very  good 

calcium 

42.63  mg 

4 

2.8 

good 

nantothenic  acid 

0.20  mg 

4 

2.7 

good 

maenesium 

14.79  mg 

4 

2.5 

good 

iron 

0.64  mg 

4 

2.4 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.56  mg 

4 

2.3 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Chainy  GB,  Manna  SK,  Chaturvedi  MM,  Aggarwal  BB.  Anethole  blocks  both  early  and  late  cellular  responses 
transduced  by  tumor  necrosis  factor:  effect  on  NF-kappaB,  AP-1,  JNK,  MAPKK  and  apoptosis.  Oncogene  2000  Jun 
8;19(25):2943-50.  2000.  PM1D:  12930. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Ensminger,  ME,  Kondale  JE,  Robson  JRK.  Foods  & Nutriton  Encyclopedia.  Pegus  Press,  Clovis, 
California.  1983. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Esminger  M.  K.  J.  e.  al.  Food  for  Health:  A Nutrition  Encyclopedia.  Clovis,  California:  Pegus  Press; 
1986.  1986.  PMIDT5210. 

• Fortin,  Francois,  Editorial  Director.  The  Visual  Foods  Encyclopedia.  Macmillan,  New  York.  1996. 


Grieve  M.  A Modern  Herbal.  Dover  Publications,  New  York.  1971. 

Ostad  SN,  Soodi  M,  Shariffzadeh  M,  et  al.  The  effect  of  fennel  essential  oil  on  uterine  contraction  as  a model  for 
dysmenorrhea,  pharmacology  and  toxicology  study.  J Ethnopharmacol  2001  Aug;76(3):299-304.  2001.  PMID:  12940. 
Ozbek  H,  Ugras  S,  Dulger  H et  al.  Hepatoprotective  effect  of  Foeniculum  vulgare  essential  oil.  Fitoterapia  2003  Apr; 
74(3):3 17-9.  2003. 

Ruberto  G,  Baratta  MT,  Deans  SG,  Dorman  HJ.  Antioxidant  and  antimicrobial  activity  of  Foeniculum  vulgare  and 
Crithmum  maritimum  essential  oils.  Planta  Med  2000  Dec;66(8):687-93.  2000.  PMID:  12920. 

Wood,  Rebecca.  The  Whole  Foods  Encyclopedia.  New  York,  NY:  Prentice-Hall  Press;  1988.  1988.  PMID:  15220. 


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For  education  only,  consult  a healthcare  practitioner  for  any  health  problems. 
© 2001-2016  The  George  Mateljan  Foundation,  All  Rights  Reserved 


Garlic 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Garlic 

• One  potential  health  benefit  from  garlic  might  be  obtained  by  chopping  or  crushing  it  and  letting  it  sit  before  heating  it 
along  with  other  recipe  ingredients.  Chopping  will  activate  alliinase  enzymes  in  some  of  the  cells,  and  sitting  will  allow 
those  enzymes  to  convert  some  of  the  garlic's  allin  into  allicin.  Both  alliin  and  allicin  are  sulfur-compounds  and  while 
both  provide  health  benefits,  the  health  benefits  of  allicin  are  especially  well-documented  in  research  studies. 

• Garlic  may  help  improve  your  iron  metabolism.  That's  because  the  diallyl  sulfides  in  garlic  can  help  increase  production 
of  a protein  called  ferroportin.  (Ferroportin  is  a protein  that  runs  across  the  cell  membrane,  and  it  forms  a passageway 
that  allows  stored  iron  to  leave  the  cells  and  become  available  where  it  is  needed.) 

• In  addition  to  being  a good  source  of  selenium,  garlic  may  be  a more  reliable  source  as  well.  Garlic  is  what  scientists  call 
a "seleniferous"  plant:  it  can  uptake  selenium  from  the  soil  even  when  soil  concentrations  do  not  favor  this  uptake. 

• The  cardioprotective  benefits  of  garlic  may  partly  rest  on  the  production  of  hydrogen  sulfide  (H2S)  gas.  Our  red  blood 
cells  can  take  some  types  of  sulfur-containing  molecules  in  garlic  (called  polysulfides)  and  use  them  to  produce  H2S. 

This  H2S  in  turn  can  help  our  blood  vessels  expand  and  keep  our  blood  pressure  in  check.  Interestingly,  some  processed 
garlic  extracts  cannot  be  used  by  our  red  blood  cells  in  the  same  way  and  do  not  seem  to  provide  the  same  level  of 
cardioprotection  that  is  provided  by  garlic  in  food  form. 

• While  still  in  its  very  early  stages,  research  suggests  that  garlic  consumption  may  actually  help  to  regulate  the  number  of 
fat  cells  that  get  formed  in  our  body.  1,2-DT  (1,2-vinyldithiin)  is  one  of  the  unique  sulfur  compounds  in  garlic  that  has 
long  been  recognized  as  having  anti-inflammatory  properties.  But  only  recently  have  researchers  discovered  that  some  of 
our  fibroblastic  cells  (called  "preadipocytes")  only  evolve  into  full-fledged  fat  cells  (called  "adipocytes")  under  certain 
metabolic  circumstances  involving  inflammatory  system  activity.  1,2-DT  may  be  able  to  inhibit  this  conversion  process. 
Since  obesity  is  increasingly  viewed  by  researchers  as  a chronic  state  of  low-grade  inflammation,  the  inflammation- 
related  benefits  of  garlic's  1 ,2-DT  may  eventually  be  extended  into  the  clinical  area  of  obesity. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

With  their  unique  combination  of  flavonoids  and  sulfur-containing  nutrients,  allium  vegetables — such  as  garlic — belong  in 
your  diet  on  a regular  basis.  There's  research  evidence  for  including  at  least  one  serving  of  an  allium  vegetable — such  as  garlic 
— in  your  meal  plan  every  day.  If  you're  choosing  garlic  as  your  allium  family  vegetable,  try  to  include  at  least  1/2  clove  in 
your  individual  food  portion.  If  you're  preparing  a recipe,  we  recommend  at  least  1-2  cloves. 

Garlic  is  a wonderful  seasoning  to  add  aroma,  taste,  and  added  nutrition  to  your  dishes.  We  often  recommend  using  raw 
chopped  or  pressed  garlic  in  many  of  our  dishes  to  take  advantage  of  the  benefits  derived  from  garlic.  However,  if  you  cannot 
tolerate  raw  garlic,  you  can  add  chopped  garlic  to  foods  while  they  are  cooking.  It  is  best  to  add  it  towards  the  end  of  the 
cooking  process  to  retain  the  maximum  amount  of  flavor  and  nutrition 


Calories:  27 
GI:  low 


Nutrient  DRI/DV 


manganese 

15% 

vitamin  B6 

13% 

vitamin  C 

7% 

copper 

6% 

selenium 

5% 

DhosDhorus 

4% 

calcium 

3% 

vitamin  B 1 

3% 

Garlic,  raw 
6.00  cloves 
(18.00  grams) 


Health  Benefits 

Whole  books  have  been  written  about  garlic,  an  herb  affectionately  called  "the  stinking  rose"  in  light  of  its  numerous 
therapeutic  benefits.  A member  of  the  lily  or  Allium  family,  which  also  includes  onions  and  leeks,  garlic  is  rich  in  a variety  of 
powerful  sulfur-containing  compounds  including  thiosulfinates  (an  important  example  being  allicin),  sulfoxides  (a  well-studied 


example  being  alliin),  volatile  organosulfur  compounds>  like  diallyl  sulfides,  vinyldithiins,  ajoene  and  its  derivatives,  and  also 
water-soluble  organosulfur  compounds  (inducing  S-allyl-L-cysteine).  Some  of  these  compounds  are  largely  responsible  for 
garlic's  characteristically  pungent  odor,  and  they  are  also  the  source  of  documented  health  benefits. 

Fairly  recent  research  has  linked  some  of  the  less  well-studied  sulfur  compounds  in  garlic  to  potential  support  of  our 
cardiovascular  health.  These  sulfur  compounds  include  1,2-vinyldithiin  (1,2-DT),  and  thiacremonone.  The  hydrogen  sulfide 
gas  (H2S)  that  can  be  made  from  garlic's  sulfides  has  also  been  the  subject  of  great  research  interest.  When  produced  and 
released  from  our  red  blood  cells,  this  H2S  gas  can  help  dilate  our  blood  vessels  and  help  keep  our  blood  pressure  under 
control. 

Finally,  when  thinking  about  the  sulfur  compounds  in  garlic,  it  is  important  to  remember  that  sulfur  itself  is  a key  part  of  our 
health.  Several  research  studies  have  noted  that  the  average  U.S.  diet  may  be  deficient  in  sulfur,  and  that  foods  rich  in  sulfur 
may  be  especially  important  for  our  health.  In  addition  to  all  of  the  sulfur-related  compounds  listed  above,  garlic  is  an  excellent 
source  of  manganese  and  vitamin  B6,  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  C,  and  a good  source  of  selenium. 

Cardiovascular  Benefits 

Most  of  the  research  on  garlic  and  our  cardiovascular  system  has  been  conducted  on  garlic  powder,  garlic  oil,  or  aged  garlic 
extracts  rather  than  garlic  in  food  form.  But  despite  this  research  limitation,  food  studies  on  garlic  show  this  allium  vegetable 
to  have  important  cardioprotective  properties.  Garlic  is  clearly  able  to  lower  our  blood  triglycerides  and  total  cholesterol,  even 
though  this  reduction  can  be  moderate  (5-15%). 

But  cholesterol  and  triglyceride  reduction  are  by  no  means  garlic's  most  compelling  benefits  when  it  comes  to  cardioprotection. 
Those  top-level  benefits  clearly  come  in  the  form  of  blood  cell  and  blood  vessel  protection  from  inflammatory  and  oxidative 
stress.  Damage  to  blood  vessel  linings  by  highly  reactive  oxygen  molecules  is  a key  factor  for  increasing  our  risk  of 
cardiovascular  problems,  including  heart  attack  and  atherosclerosis.  Oxidative  damage  also  leads  to  unwanted  inflammation, 
and  it  is  this  combination  of  unwanted  inflammation  and  oxidative  stress  that  puts  our  blood  vessels  at  risk  of  unwanted  plaque 
formation  and  clogging.  Garlic  unique  set  of  sulfur-containing  compounds  helps  protect  us  against  both  possibilities — 
oxidative  stress  and  unwanted  inflammation. 

The  following  provides  a list  of  sulfur-containing  garlic's  constituents  that  help  lower  our  risk  of  oxidative  stress: 

• alliin 

• allicin 

• allixin 

• allyl  polysulfides  (APS)* 

• diallyl  sulfide  (DAS) 

• diallyl  disulfude  (DADS) 

• diallyl  trisulfide  (DATS) 

• N-acetylcysteine  (NAC) 

• N-acetyl-S-allylcysteine  (NASC) 

• S-allylcysteine  (SAC) 

• S-allylmercaptocysteine  (SAMC) 

• S-ethylcysteine  (SEC) 

• S-methylcysteine  (SMC) 

• S-propylcysteine  (SPC) 

• 1,2-vinyldithiin  (1,2-DT) 

• thiacremonone 

* "Allyl  polysulfides"  is  a general  term  that  refers  to  a variety  of  compounds. 

On  the  anti-inflammatory  side  of  the  equation,  garlic's  1,2-vinyldithiin  (1,2-DT)  and  thiacremonone  are  the  compounds  that 
have  been  of  special  interest  in  recent  research.  Both  compounds  appear  to  work  by  inhibiting  the  activity  of  inflammatory 
messenger  molecules.  In  the  case  of  thiacremonone,  it  is  the  inflammatory  transcription  factor  called  NFkappaB  that  gets 
inhibited.  In  the  case  of  1,2-DT,  the  exact  anti-inflammatory  mechanisms  are  not  yet  clear,  even  though  the  release  of 
inflammatory  messaging  molecules  like  interleukin  6 (IL-6)  and  interleukin  8 (IL-8)  by  macrophage  cells  has  been  shown  to  be 
reduced  in  white  adipose  tissue  by  1,2-DT.  The  combination  of  anti-inflammatory  and  anti-oxidative  stress  compounds  in 
garlic  makes  it  a unique  food  for  cardiovascular  support,  especially  in  terms  of  chronic  degenerative  cardiovascular  conditions 
like  atherosclerosis. 


In  addition  to  the  ability  of  garlic  to  help  prevent  our  blood  vessels  from  becoming  blocked,  this  allium  vegetable  may  also  be 
able  to  help  prevent  clots  from  forming  inside  of  our  blood  vessels.  This  cardiovascular  protection  has  been  linked  to  one 
particular  disulfide  in  garlic  called  ajoene.  Ajoene  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  have  anti-clotting  properties.  It  can  help 
prevent  certain  cells  in  our  blood  (called  platelets)  from  becoming  too  sticky,  and  by  keeping  this  stickiness  in  check,  it  lowers 
the  risk  of  our  platelets  clumping  together  and  forming  a clot. 

Equally  impressive  about  garlic  is  its  ability  to  lower  blood  pressure.  Researchers  have  known  for  about  10  years  that  the 
allicin  made  from  alliin  in  garlic  blocks  the  activity  of  angiotensin  II.  A small  piece  of  protein  (peptide),  angiotensin  II  helps 
our  blood  vessels  contract.  (When  they  contract,  our  blood  is  forced  to  pass  through  a smaller  space,  and  the  pressure  is 
increased.  ) By  blocking  the  activity  of  angiotensin  II,  allicin  form  garlic  is  able  to  help  prevent  unwanted  contraction  of  our 
blood  vessels  and  unwanted  increases  in  blood  pressure. 

More  recently,  however,  researchers  have  found  that  garlic  supports  our  blood  pressure  in  a second  and  totally  different  way. 
Garlic  is  rich  in  sulfur-containing  molecules  called  polysulfides.  It  turns  out  that  these  polysulfides,  once  inside  our  red  blood 
cells  (RBCs),  can  be  further  converted  by  our  RBCs  into  a gas  called  hydrogen  sulfide  (H2S).  H2S  helps  control  our  blood 
pressure  by  triggering  dilation  of  our  blood  vessels.  When  the  space  inside  our  blood  vessels  expands,  our  blood  pressure  gets 
reduced.  (H2S  is  described  as  a "gasotransmitter"  and  placed  in  the  same  category  as  nitric  oxide  (NO)  as  a messaging 
molecule  that  can  help  expand  and  relax  our  blood  vessel  walls.)  Interestingly,  our  RBCs  do  not  appear  to  use  processed  garlic 
extracts  in  the  same  way  that  they  use  polysulfides  in  food-form  garlic. 

Garlic's  numerous  beneficial  cardiovascular  effects  are  due  to  not  only  its  sulfur  compounds,  but  also  to  its  vitamin  C,  vitamin 
B6,  selenium  and  manganese.  Garlic  is  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  C,  the  body's  primary  antioxidant  defender  in  all  aqueous 
(water-soluble)  areas,  such  as  the  bloodstream,  where  it  protects  LDL  cholesterol  from  oxidation.  Since  it  is  the  oxidized  form 
of  LDL  cholesterol  that  initiates  damage  to  blood  vessel  walls,  reducing  levels  of  oxidizing  free  radicals  in  the  bloodstream  can 
have  a profound  effect  on  preventing  cardiovascular  disease. 

Garlic's  vitamin  B6  helps  prevent  heart  disease  via  another  mechanism:  lowering  levels  of  homocysteine.  An  intermediate 
product  of  an  important  cellular  biochemical  process  called  the  methylation  cycle,  homocysteine  can  directly  damage  blood 
vessel  walls. 

The  selenium  in  garlic  can  become  an  important  part  of  our  body's  antioxidant  system.  A cofactor  of  glutathione  peroxidase 
(one  of  the  body's  most  important  internally  produced  antioxidant  enzymes),  selenium  also  works  with  vitamin  E in  a number 
of  vital  antioxidant  systems. 

Garlic  is  rich  not  only  in  selenium,  but  also  in  another  trace  mineral,  manganese,  which  also  functions  as  a cofactor  in  a 
number  of  other  important  antioxidant  defense  enzymes,  for  example,  superoxide  dismutase.  Studies  have  found  that  in  adults 
deficient  in  manganese,  the  level  of  HDL  (the  "good  form"  of  cholesterol)  is  decreased. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits  Across  Body  Systems 

Our  cardiovascular  system  is  not  the  only  body  system  that  may  be  able  to  benefit  from  garlic's  anti-inflammatory  properties. 
There's  preliminary  evidence  (mostly  from  animal  studies,  and  mostly  based  on  garlic  extracts  rather  than  whole  food  garlic) 
that  our  our  musculoskeletal  system  and  respiratory  system  can  also  benefit  from  anti-inflammatory  compounds  in  garlic.  Both 
the  diallyl  sulfide  (DAS)  and  thiacremonone  in  garlic  have  been  shown  to  have  anti-arthritic  properties.  And  in  the  case  of 
allergic  airway  inflammation,  aged  garlic  extract  has  been  show  to  improve  inflammatory  conditions  (once  again  in  animal 
studies). 

Even  more  preliminary  is  research  evidence  showing  that  some  inflammatory  aspects  of  obesity  may  be  altered  by  sulfur- 
containing  compounds  in  garlic.  Specifically,  there  is  one  stage  in  development  of  the  body's  fat  cells  (adipocytes)  that  appears 
to  be  closely  related  to  status  of  our  inflammatory  system.  Fat  cells  cannot  become  fully  themselves  unless  they  are  able  to 
progress  from  a preliminary  stage  called  "preadipocytes"  to  a final  stage  called  "adipocytes."  One  of  the  sulfur  compounds  in 
garlic  (1,2,-vinyldithiin,  or  1,2-DT)  appears  able  to  lessen  this  conversion  of  preadipocytes  into  adipocytes,  and  the  impact  of 
1,2-DT  appears  to  be  inflammation-related.  Even  though  very  preliminary,  this  research  on  1,2-DT  is  exciting  because  obesity 
is  increasingly  being  understood  as  a disease  characterized  by  chronic,  low  level  inflammation  and  our  inflammatory  status  is 
precisely  where  garlic's  1,2-DT  has  its  apparent  impact. 

Antibacterial  and  Antiviral  Benefits 

From  a medical  history  standpoint,  the  antibacterial  and  antiviral  properties  of  garlic  are  perhaps  its  most  legendary  feature. 
This  allium  vegetable  and  its  constituents  have  been  studied  not  only  for  their  benefits  in  controlling  infection  by  bacteria  and 
viruses,  but  also  infection  from  other  microbes  including  yeasts/fungi  and  worms.  (One  particular  disulfide  in  garlic,  called 


ajoene,  has  been  successfully  used  to  help  prevent  infections  with  the  yeast  Candida  albicans.)  Very  recent  research  has  shown 
the  ability  of  crushed  fresh  garlic  to  help  prevent  infection  by  the  bacterium  Pseudomonas  aeruginosa  in  bum  patients.  Also  of 
special  interest  has  been  the  ability  of  garlic  to  help  in  the  treatment  of  bacterial  infections  that  are  difficult  to  treat  due  to  the 
presence  of  bacteria  that  have  become  resistant  to  prescription  antibiotics.  However,  most  of  the  research  on  garlic  as  an 
antibiotic  has  involved  fresh  garlic  extracts  or  powdered  garlic  products  rather  than  fresh  garlic  in  whole  food  form. 

Overgrowth  of  the  bacterium  Helicobacter  pylori  in  the  stomach — a key  risk  factor  for  stomach  ulcer — has  been  another  key 
area  of  interest  for  researchers  wanting  to  explore  garlic's  antibacterial  benefits.  Results  in  this  area,  however,  have  been  mixed 
and  inconclusive.  While  garlic  may  not  be  able  to  alter  the  course  of  infection  itself,  there  may  still  be  health  benefits  from 
garlic  in  helping  to  regulate  the  body's  response  to  that  infection. 

Cancer  Prevention 

While  not  as  strong  as  the  research  evidence  for  cruciferous  vegetables,  research  on  the  allium  vegetables — including  garlic — 
shows  that  these  vegetables  have  important  anti-cancer  properties.  Interestingly,  high  intake  of  garlic  (roughly  translated  as 
daily  intake  of  this  food)  has  been  found  to  lower  risk  of  virtually  all  cancer  types  except  cancer  of  the  prostate  and  breast 
cancer.  However,  moderate  intake  of  garlic  (roughly  translated  as  several  times  per  week)  has  been  repeatedly  found  to  lower 
risk  of  only  two  cancer  types — colorectal  and  renal  cancer.  This  difference  between  "high"  versus  "moderate"  garlic  intake 
may  be  a real  difference  that  suggests  we  all  need  to  eat  more  garlic  if  we  want  to  maximize  its  cancer-related  benefits.  Or  it 
may  be  a difference  that  is  more  related  to  research  complications  involving  the  options  given  to  research  participants  when 
reporting  their  food  intake.  Still,  garlic  has  a consistent  track  record  with  respect  to  general  anti-cancer  benefits,  and  there  are 
good  research  reasons  for  classifying  garlic  as  an  "anti-cancer"  food. 

The  allyl  sulfides  found  in  garlic  may  play  a key  role  in  its  cancer-prevention  benefits.  These  garlic  compounds  are  able  to 
activate  a molecule  called  nuclear  erythroid  factor  (Nrf2)  in  the  main  compartment  of  cells.  The  Nrf2  molecule  then  moves 
from  the  main  compartment  of  the  cell  into  the  cell  nucleus,  where  it  triggers  a wide  variety  of  metabolic  activities.  Under 
some  circumstances,  this  set  of  events  can  prepare  a cell  for  engagement  in  a strong  survival  response,  and  in  particular,  the 
kind  of  response  that  is  needed  under  conditions  of  oxidative  stress.  Under  other  circumstances,  this  same  set  of  events  can 
prepare  the  cell  to  engage  in  programmed  cell  death  (apoptosis).  When  a cell  recognizes  that  it  has  become  too  compromised 
to  continue  functioning  in  a healthy  manner  with  other  cells,  it  stops  proceeding  through  its  own  life  cycle  and  essentially  starts 
to  dismantle  itself  and  recycle  its  parts.  It's  critical  for  a cell  to  determine  whether  it  should  continue  on  or  shut  itself  down, 
because  cells  that  continue  on  without  the  ability  to  properly  function  or  communicate  effectively  with  other  cells  are  at  risk  of 
becoming  cancerous.  The  ability  of  garlic's  allyl  sulfides  to  activate  Nrf2  suggests  that  garlic  may  be  able  to  help  modify  these 
all-critical  cell  responses  and  prevent  potentially  cancerous  cells  from  forming. 

One  especially  interesting  area  of  research  on  garlic  and  cancer  prevention  involves  meat  cooked  at  high  temperatures. 
Heterocyclic  amines  (HCAs)  are  cancer-related  substances  that  can  form  when  meat  comes  into  contact  with  a high- 
temperature  cooking  surface  (400°F/204°C  or  higher).  One  such  HCA  is  called  PhIP  (which  stands  for  2-amino- l-methyl-6- 
phenylimidazopyridine).  PhIP  is  thought  to  be  one  reason  for  the  increased  incidence  of  breast  cancer  among  women  who  eat 
large  quantities  of  meat  because  it  is  rapidly  transformed  into  DNA-damaging  compounds. 

Diallyl  sulfide  (DAS),  one  of  the  many  sulfur-containing  compounds  in  garlic,  has  been  shown  to  inhibit  the  transformation  of 
PhIP  into  carcinogens.  DAS  blocks  this  transformation  by  decreasing  the  production  of  the  liver  enzymes  (the  Phase  I enzymes 
CYP1A1,  CYP1A2  and  CYP1B1)  that  transform  PhIP  into  activated  DNA-damaging  compounds.  Of  course,  your  best  way  to 
prevent  formation  of  PhIP  is  not  to  bring  your  meat  into  contact  with  a 400°F/204°C  cooking  surface  in  the  first  place.  But  this 
area  of  research  still  bolsters  our  view  of  garlic  as  an  allium  vegetable  with  important  cancer-preventive  properties. 

Garlic  and  Iron  Metabolism 

Recent  research  has  shown  that  garlic  may  be  able  to  improve  our  metabolism  of  iron.  When  iron  is  stored  up  in  our  cells,  one 
of  the  key  passageways  for  it  to  be  moved  out  of  the  cell  and  returned  into  circulation  involves  a protein  called  ferroportin. 
Ferroportin  is  protein  that  runs  across  the  cell  membrane,  and  it  provides  a bridge  for  iron  to  cross  over  and  leave  the  cell. 
Garlic  may  be  able  to  increase  our  body's  production  of  ferroportin,  and  in  this  way,  help  keep  iron  in  circulation  as  it  is 
needed. 

Description 

For  a small  vegetable,  garlic  (. Allium  sativum)  sure  has  a big,  and  well  deserved,  reputation.  And  although  garlic  may  not 
always  bring  good  luck,  protect  against  evil,  or  ward  off  vampires,  characteristics  to  which  it  has  been  assigned  folklorically,  it 


is  guaranteed  to  transform  any  meal  into  a bold,  aromatic,  and  healthy  culinary  experience.  Garlic  is  a member  of  the  Lily 
family  and  is  a cousin  to  onions,  leeks  and  chives. 

Garlic  is  arranged  in  a head,  called  a "bulb,"  which  averages  about  2 inches  in  height  and  diameter  and  consists  of  numerous 
small  separate  cloves.  Both  the  cloves  and  the  entire  bulb  are  encased  in  paper-like  sheathes  that  can  be  white,  off-white,  or 
have  a pink/purple  hue.  Although  garlic  cloves  have  a firm  texture,  they  can  be  easily  cut  or  crashed.  The  taste  of  garlic  is  like 
no  other — it  hits  the  palate  with  a hot  pungency  that  is  shadowed  by  a very  subtle  background  sweetness.  While  elephant  garlic 
has  larger  cloves,  it  is  more  closely  related  to  the  leek  and  therefore  does  not  offer  the  fall  health  benefits  of  regular  garlic. 

Fresh,  dried  and  powdered  garlic  are  available  in  markets  throughout  the  year,  however,  fresh  varieties  from  California  are  in 
season  from  June  through  December. 

History 

Native  to  central  Asia,  garlic  is  one  of  the  oldest  cultivated  plants  in  the  world  and  has  been  grown  for  over  5000  years. 

Ancient  Egyptians  seem  to  have  been  the  first  to  cultivate  this  plant  that  played  an  important  role  in  their  culture. 

Garlic  was  not  only  bestowed  with  sacred  qualities  and  placed  in  the  tomb  of  Pharaohs,  but  it  was  given  to  the  slaves  that  built 
the  Pyramids  to  enhance  their  endurance  and  strength.  This  strength-enhancing  quality  was  also  honored  by  the  ancient  Greeks 
and  Romans,  civilizations  whose  athletes  ate  garlic  before  sporting  events  and  whose  soldiers  consumed  it  before  going  off  to 
war. 

Garlic  was  introduced  into  various  regions  throughout  the  globe  by  migrating  cultural  tribes  and  explorers.  By  the  6th  century 
BC,  garlic  was  known  in  both  China  and  India,  the  latter  country  using  it  for  therapeutic  purposes. 

Throughout  the  millennia,  garlic  has  been  a beloved  plant  in  many  cultures  for  both  its  culinary  and  medicinal  properties.  Over 
the  last  few  years,  it  has  gained  unprecedented  popularity  since  researchers  have  been  scientifically  validating  its  numerous 
health  benefits. 

Currently,  China,  South  Korea,  India,  Spain  and  the  United  States  are  among  the  top  commercial  producers  of  garlic. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

For  maximum  flavor  and  nutritional  benefits,  always  purchase  fresh  garlic.  Although  garlic  in  flake,  powder,  or  paste  form 
may  be  more  convenient,  you  will  derive  less  culinary  and  health  benefits  from  these  forms. 

Purchase  garlic  that  is  plump  and  has  unbroken  skin.  Gently  squeeze  the  garlic  bulb  between  your  fingers  to  check  that  it  feels 
firm  and  is  not  damp. 

Avoid  garlic  that  is  soft,  shriveled,  and  moldy  or  that  has  begun  to  sprout.  These  may  be  indications  of  decay  that  will  cause 
inferior  flavor  and  texture.  Size  is  often  not  an  indication  of  quality.  If  your  recipe  calls  for  a large  amount  of  garlic,  remember 
that  it  is  always  easier  to  peel  and  chop  a few  larger  cloves  than  many  smaller  ones.  Fresh  garlic  is  available  in  the  market 
throughout  the  year. 

Store  fresh  garlic  in  either  an  uncovered  or  a loosely  covered  container  in  a cool,  dark  place  away  from  exposure  to  heat  and 
sunlight.  This  will  help  maintain  its  maximum  freshness  and  help  prevent  sprouting,  which  reduces  its  flavor  and  causes  excess 
waste.  It  is  not  necessary  to  refrigerate  garlic.  Some  people  freeze  peeled  garlic;  however,  this  process  reduces  its  flavor  profile 
and  changes  its  texture. 

Depending  upon  its  age  and  variety,  whole  garlic  bulbs  will  keep  fresh  for  about  a month  if  stored  properly.  Inspect  the  bulb 
frequently  and  remove  any  cloves  that  appear  to  be  dried  out  or  moldy.  Once  you  break  the  head  of  garlic,  it  greatly  reduces  its 
shelf  life  to  just  a few  days. 

How  to  Enjoy 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Garlic 

• Garlic  Shrimp  Salad 

• Mediterranean  Dressing 


We  actually  include  garlic  as  an  ingredient  in  so  many  of  our  recipes.  To  find  these  just  go  to  the  Recipe  Assistant  on  the 
Recipes  page  and  click  on  "garlic"  in  the  "Food  to  Include"  box. 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Puree  fresh  garlic,  canned  garbanzo  beans,  tahini,  olive  oil  and  lemon  juice  to  make  quick  and  easy  hummus  dip. 

• Healthy  Saute  steamed  spinach,  garlic,  and  fresh  lemon  juice. 

• Add  garlic  to  sauces  and  soups. 

• Puree  roasted  garlic,  cooked  potatoes  and  olive  oil  together  to  make  delicious  garlic  mashed  potatoes.  Season  to  taste. 

Safety 

The  Johns  Hopkins  Lupus  Center  has  recently  listed  garlic  as  a food  to  be  avoided  by  persons  diagnosed  with  lupus  (systemic 
lupus  erythematosus,  or  SLE).  While  we  have  not  seen  any  published  research  documenting  lupus  flare-ups  with  garlic  intake, 
and  while  the  Lupus  Foundation  of  America  has  suggested  on  its  website  that  "occasional  use  is  cooking  is  not  likely  to  cause 
significant  problems  for  most  people,"  we  have  heard  directly  from  website  visitors  who  have  experienced  problems  in  this 
area.  If  you  are  a person  diagnosed  with  lupus,  we  recommend  a consult  with  your  healthcare  provider  to  decide  about 
inclusion  or  avoidance  of  garlic  in  your  meal  plan. 

Do  not  store  garlic  in  oil  at  room  temperature.  Garlic-in-oil  mixtures  stored  at  room  temperature  provide  perfect  conditions  for 
producing  botulism,  regardless  of  whether  the  garlic  is  fresh  or  has  been  roasted. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Garlic,  raw 

6.00  cloves  Calories:  27 

18.00  grams  GI:  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

maruranese 

0.30  mg 

15 

10.1 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.22  mg 

13 

8.7 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

5.62  mg 

7 

5.0 

very  good 

cooper 

0.05  mg 

6 

3.7 

very  good 

selenium 

2.56  meg 

5 

3.1 

good 

nhosnhorus 

27.54  mg 

4 

2.6 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.04  mg 

3 

2.2 

good 

calcium 

32.58  mg 

3 

2.2 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/DV >=7 5 % OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/D V>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density>=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=l  .5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 


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• Benavides  GA,  Squadrito  GL,  Mills  RW  et  al.  Hydrogen  sulfide  mediates  the  vasoactivity  of  garlic.  Proc  Natl  Acad  Sci 
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• Ghalambor  A and  Pipelzadeh  MH.  Clinical  study  on  the  efficacy  of  orally  administered  crushed  fresh  garlic  in 
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• Keophiphath  M,  Priem  F,  Jacquemond-Collet  I et  al.  1,2-Vinyldithiin  from  Garlic  Inhibits  Differentiation  and 
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• Lee  YM,  Gweon  OC,  Seo  YJ  et  al.  Antioxidant  effect  of  garlic  and  aged  black  garlic  in  animal  model  of  type  2 diabetes 
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• Melino  S,  Sabelli  R and  Paci  M.  Allyl  sulfur  compounds  and  cellular  detoxification  system:  effects  and  perspectives  in 
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• Mukherjee  S,  Lekli  I,  Goswami  S et  al.  Freshly  Crushed  Garlic  is  a Superior  Cardioprotective  Agent  than  Processed 
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• Nahdi  A,  Hammami  I,  Brasse-Lagnel  C et  al.  Influence  of  garlic  or  its  main  active  component  diallyl  disulfide  on  iron 
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• Nemeth  K and  Piskula  MK.  Food  content,  processing,  absorption  and  metabolism  of  onion  flavonoids.  Crit  Rev  Food 
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• Pedraza-Chaverri  J,  Gil-Ortiz  M,  Albarran  G et  al.  Garlic's  ability  to  prevent  in  vitro  Cu2+-induced  lipoprotein  oxidation 
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• Reinhart  KM,  Talati  R,  White  CM  et  al.  The  impact  of  garlic  on  lipid  parameters:  a systematic  review  and  meta-analysis. 
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• Ried  K,  Frank  OR,  Stocks  NP  et  al.  Effect  of  garlic  on  blood  pressure:  a systematic  review  and  meta-analysis.  BMC 
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• Rivlin  RS.  Can  garlic  reduce  risk  of  cancer?.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2009  January;  89(1):  17-18.  Published  online  2008 
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• Salih  BA,  Abasiyanik  FM.  Does  regular  garlic  intake  affect  the  prevalence  of  Helicobacter  pylori  in  asymptomatic 
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• Shin  HA,  Cha  YY,  Park  MS  et  al.  Diallyl  sulfide  induces  growth  inhibition  and  apoptosis  of  anaplastic  thyroid  cancer 
cells  by  mitochondrial  signaling  pathway.  Oral  Oncol.  2010  Apr;46(4):el5-8.  2010. 

• Siegel  G,  Michel  F,  Ploch  M,  Rodriguez  M,  Malmsten  M.  [Inhibition  of  arteriosclerotic  plaque  development  by  garlic], 
Wien  Med  Wochenschr.  2004  Nov;154(21-22):515-22.  2004.  PMID:  15638070. 

• Tilli  CM,  Stavast-Kooy  AJ,  Vuerstaek  JD,  Thissen  MR,  Krekels  GA,  Ramaekers  FC,  Neumann  HA.  The  garlic-derived 
organosulfur  component  ajoene  decreases  basal  cell  carcinoma  tumor  size  by  inducing  apoptosis.  Arch  Dermatol  Res. 
Jul;295(3):  11 7-23.  2003. 


Wang  Y,  Zhang  L,  Moslehi  R et  al.  Long-Term  Garlic  or  Micronutrient  Supplementation,  but  Not  Anti-Helicobacter 
pylori  Therapy,  Increases  Serum  Folate  or  Glutathione  Without  Affecting  Serum  Vitamin  B-12  or  Homocysteine  in  a 
Rural  Chine.  JNutr.  2009  January;  139(1):  106T12.  2009. 

Wilson  CL,  Aboyade-Cole  A,  Darling-Reed  S,  Thomas  RD.  Poster  Presentations,  Session  A,  Abstract  2543:  A30  Diallyl 
Sulfide  Antagonizes  PhIP  Induced  Alterations  in  the  Expression  of  Phase  I and  Phase  II  Metabolizing  Enzymes  in 
Human  Breast  Epithelial  Cells,  presented  at  the  American  Association  for  Cancer  Research's  Frontiers  in  Cancer 
Prevention  Research  meeting  in  Baltimore,  MD,  July  2005.  2005. 

Zare  A,  Farzaneh  P,  Pourpak  Z et  al.  Purified  aged  garlic  extract  modulates  allergic  airway  inflammation  in  B ALB/c 
mice.  Iran  J Allergy  Asthma  Immunol.  2008  Sep;7(3):  133-41.  2008. 


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Green  beans 


Green  Beans  are  the  Food  of  the  Week 

This  week  we  celebrate  green  beans,  one  of  only  a few  varieties  of  beans  that  can  be  eaten  fresh.  Picked  when  they  are  still 
immature  and  the  inner  bean  is  just  beginning  to  form  green  beans  are  a great  source  of  folate,  fiber  and  vitamin  K. 

For  more  on  the  Food  of  the  Week 

• >Cutting  Green  Beans 

• Why  is  the  food  of  the  week  among  the  WHFoods?" 

• Healthy  Eating  with  the  Seasons 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Green  Beans 

• Because  of  their  rich  green  color,  we  don't  always  think  about  green  beans  as  providing  us  with  important  amounts  of 
colorful  pigments  like  carotenoids.  But  they  do!  Recent  studies  have  confirmed  the  presence  of  lutein,  beta-carotene, 
violaxanthin,  and  neoxanthin  in  green  beans.  In  some  cases,  the  presence  of  these  carotenoids  in  green  beans  is 
comparable  to  their  presence  in  other  carotenoid-rich  vegetables  like  carrots  and  tomatoes.  The  only  reason  we  don't  see 
these  carotenoids  is  because  of  the  concentrated  chlorophyll  content  of  green  beans  and  the  amazing  shades  of  green  that 
it  provides. 

• You  can  enjoy  green  beans  while  supporting  food  sustainability!  Recent  surveys  have  shown  that  60%  of  all 
commercially  grown  green  beans  are  produced  in  the  United  States,  with  large  amounts  of  green  bean  acreage  found  in 
the  states  of  Illinois,  Michigan,  New  York,  Oregon,  and  Wisconsin.  Although  countries  like  France,  Mexico,  Iraq,  and 
Argentina  are  large-scale  producers  of  green  beans,  there  is  plenty  of  this  delicious  vegetable  available  in  our  own 
backyard. 

• If  you  are  unable  to  obtain  fresh  green  beans,  you  can  still  get  many  valuable  nutrients  from  green  beans  that  have  been 
frozen  or  canned.  We  like  fresh  greens  the  best!  But  we  realize  that  access  to  them  can  sometimes  be  a problem.  When 
first  frozen  and  then  cooked,  retention  of  some  B vitamins  in  green  beans  (like  vitamins  B6  and  B2)  can  be  as  high  as 
90%.  Recent  studies  have  shown  that  canned  green  beans,  on  average,  lose  about  one  third  of  their  phenolic  compounds 
during  the  canning  process.  They  lose  B vitamins  as  well  but  in  the  case  of  some  B vitamins  like  folic  acid,  as  little  as 
10%. 

• Green  beans  (referred  to  as  "string  beans"  by  the  study  authors)  have  recently  been  shown  to  have  impressive  antioxidant 
capacity.  Research  comparing  the  overall  antioxidant  capacity  of  green  beans  to  other  foods  in  the  pea  and  bean  families 
(for  example,  snow  peas  or  winged  beans)  has  found  green  beans  to  come  out  on  top,  even  though  green  beans  are  not 
always  highest  in  their  concentration  of  specific  antioxidant  nutrients  like  phenolic  acids  or  vitamin  C.  It's  not  surprising 
to  find  recent  studies  highlighting  the  antioxidant  capacity  of  green  beans!  Researchers  now  know  that  the  list  of 
antioxidant  flavonoids  found  in  green  beans  is  not  limited  to  quercetin  and  kaemferol  but  also  includes  flavonoids  like 
catechins,  epicatechins,  and  procyanidins.  Researchers  also  know  that  the  antioxidant  carotenoids  in  this  vegetable  are 
diverse,  and  include  lutein,  beta-carotene,  violaxanthin,  and  neoxanthin,  as  noted  above. 

• Green  beans  may  be  a particularly  helpful  food  for  providing  us  with  the  mineral  silicon.  This  mineral — while  less  well 
known  than  minerals  like  calcium  and  magnesium — is  very  important  for  bone  health  and  for  healthy  formation  of 
connective  tissue.  Green  beans  have  recently  been  shown  to  stack  up  quite  well  against  other  commonly-eaten  foods  as  a 
good  source  of  absorbable  silicon. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

To  retain  the  maximum  number  of  health-promoting  phytonutrients  and  vitamins  and  minerals  found  in  green  beans,  we 
recommend  Healthy  Steaming  them  for  just  5 minutes.  This  also  brings  out  their  peak  flavor  and  provides  the  moisture 
necessary  to  make  them  tender,  and  retain  their  beautifully  bright  green  color.  It  is  best  to  cook  green  beans  whole  to  ensure 
even  cooking.  For  more  on  the  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Green  Beans,  see  below. 


Green  Beans,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(125.00  grams) 

Calories:  44 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

Health  Benefits 

Antioxidant  Support  from  Green  Beans 

Best  studied  from  a research  standpoint  is  the  antioxidant  content  of  green  beans.  In  addition  to  conventional  antioxidant 
nutrients  like  vitamin  C and  beta-carotene,  green  beans  contain  important  amounts  of  the  antioxidant  mineral  manganese.  But 
the  area  of  phytonutrients  is  where  green  beans  really  shine  through  in  their  antioxidant  value.  Green  beans  contain  a wide 
variety  of  carotenoids  (including  lutein,  beta-carotene,  violaxanthin,  and  neoxanthin)  and  flavonoids  (including  quercetin, 
kaemferol,  catechins,  epicatechins,  and  procyanidins)  that  have  all  been  shown  to  have  health-supportive  antioxidant 
properties.  In  addition,  the  overall  antioxidant  capacity  of  green  beans  has  been  measured  in  several  research  studies,  and  in 
one  study,  green  beans  have  been  shown  to  have  greater  overall  antioxidant  capacity  than  similar  foods  in  the  pea  and  bean 
families,  for  example,  snow  peas  or  winged  beans. 

Cardiovascular  Benefits 

Just  as  you  might  expect,  the  antioxidant  support  provided  by  green  beans  provides  us  with  some  direct  cardiovascular 
benefits.  While  most  of  the  cardio  research  on  green  beans  involves  animal  studies  on  rats  and  nice,  improvement  in  levels  of 
blood  fats  and  better  protection  of  these  fats  from  oxygen  damage  has  been  shown  to  result  from  green  bean  intake. 
Interestingly,  the  green  bean  pod  (the  main  portion  of  the  green  beans  that  provides  the  covering  for  the  beans  inside)  appears 
to  be  more  closely  related  to  these  cardio  benefits  than  the  young,  immature  beans  that  are  found  inside. 

While  not  documented  in  the  health  research  to  date,  we  believe  that  the  omega-3  fatty  acid  of  content  of  green  beans  can  also 
make  an  important  contribution  to  their  cardiovascular  benefits.  Most  people  do  not  even  recognize  green  beans  as  a source  of 
omega-3  fats!  While  there  is  a relatively  small  amount  of  the  omega-3  fatty  acid  alpha- linolenic  acid  (ALA)  in  green  beans, 
this  amount  can  still  be  very  important  and  is  actually  fairly  large  in  comparison  to  the  amount  of  calories  in  green  beans.  You 
get  1 milligram  of  ALA  for  every  4 calories  of  green  beans  that  you  eat.  For  every  4 calories  of  walnuts  that  you  eat,  you  get 
1 .4  milligrams  of  ALA.  So  you  can  see  that  green  beans — while  not  as  concentrated  in  ALA  as  walnuts — are  nevertheless  an 
underrated  source  of  this  heart-protective  nutrient. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

The  strong  carotenoid  and  flavonoid  content  of  green  beans  also  appears  to  give  this  vegetable  some  potentially  unique  anti- 
inflammatory benefits.  For  example,  some  very  preliminary  research  in  laboratory  animals  shows  decreased  activity  of  certain 
inflammation-related  enzymes — lipoxygenases  (LOX)  and  cyclooxygenases  (COX) — following  intake  of  bean  extracts. 
Because  type  2 diabetes  is  a health  problem  that  is  known  to  contain  a basic  component  of  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation, 
we  are  also  not  surprised  to  see  some  very  preliminary  research  in  the  area  of  green  bean  intake,  anti-inflammatory  benefits, 
and  prevention  of  type  2 diabetes.  (The  very  good  fiber  content  of  green  beans  most  likely  adds  to  the  potential  of  green  beans 


to  help  prevent  this  common  health  problem.)  We  expect  to  see  more  research  in  both  of  these  health  benefit  areas  (anti- 
inflammatory benefits  and  prevention  of  type  2 diabetes). 

Description 

Commonly  referred  to  as  string  beans,  the  string  that  once  was  their  trademark  (running  lengthwise  down  the  seam  of  the  pod) 
can  seldom  be  found  in  modern  varieties.  It's  for  this  reason  (the  breeding  out  of  the  "string")  that  string  beans  are  often 
referred  to  as  "snap  beans."  Because  they  are  picked  at  a younger,  immature  stage,  "snap  beans"  can  literally  be  snapped  in  half 
with  a simple  twist  of  the  fingers.  Although  these  bright  green  and  crunchy  beans  are  available  at  your  local  market  throughout 
the  year,  they  are  in  season  from  summer  through  early  fall  when  they  are  at  their  best  and  the  least  expensive.  You  may  also 
see  them  referred  to  as  " haricot  vert" — this  term  simply  means  "green  bean"  in  French  and  is  the  common  French  term  for  this 
vegetable.  This  term  can  also  refer  to  specific  varieties  of  green  beans  that  are  popular  in  French  cuisine  because  of  their  very 
thin  shape  and  very  tender  texture 

Green  beans  belong  to  the  same  family  as  shell  beans,  such  as  pinto  beans,  black  beans,  and  kidney  beans.  In  fact,  all  of  these 
beans  have  the  exact  same  genus/species  name  in  science — Phaseolus  vulgaris — and  all  can  be  referred  to  simply  as  "common 
beans."  However,  since  green  beans  are  usually  picked  while  still  immature  and  while  the  inner  beans  are  just  beginning  to 
form  in  the  pod,  they  are  typically  eaten  in  fresh  (versus  dried)  form,  pod  and  all.  Green  beans  are  often  deep  emerald  green  in 
color  and  come  to  a slight  point  at  either  end.  Green  bean  varieties  of  this  common  bean  family  are  usually  selected  for  their 
great  texture  and  flavor  while  still  young  and  fresh  on  the  vine.  In  contrast,  dried  bean  varieties  like  pinto  or  black  or  kidney 
beans  are  usually  selected  for  their  ability  to  produce  larger  and  more  dense  beans  during  the  full  time  period  when  they  mature 
on  the  vine.  At  full  maturity,  their  pods  are  often  too  thick  and  fibrous  to  be  readily  enjoyed  in  fresh  form,  but  the  beans  inside 
their  pods  are  perfect  for  drying  and  storing. 

History 

Green  beans  and  other  beans,  such  are  kidney  beans,  navy  beans  and  black  beans  are  all  known  scientifically  as  Phaseolus 
vulgaris.  They  are  all  referred  to  as  "common  beans,"  probably  owing  to  the  fact  that  they  all  derived  from  a common  bean 
ancestor  that  originated  in  Peru.  From  there,  they  spread  throughout  South  and  Central  America  by  migrating  Indian  tribes. 
They  were  introduced  into  Europe  around  the  16th  century  by  Spanish  explorers  returning  from  their  voyages  to  the  New 
World,  and  subsequently  were  spread  through  many  other  parts  of  the  world  by  Spanish  and  Portuguese  traders.  Today,  the 
largest  commercial  producers  of  fresh  green  beans  include  Argentina,  China,  Egypt,  France,  Indonesia,  India,  Iraq,  Italy, 

France,  Mexico,  the  Netherlands,  Spain,  and  the  United  States. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

If  possible,  purchase  green  beans  at  a store  or  farmer's  market  that  sells  them  loose  so  that  you  can  sort  through  them  to  choose 
the  beans  of  best  quality.  Purchase  beans  that  have  a smooth  feel  and  a vibrant  green  color,  and  that  are  free  from  brown  spots 
or  bruises.  They  should  have  a firm  texture  and  "snap"  when  broken. 

Store  unwashed  fresh  beans  pods  in  a plastic  bag  kept  in  the  refrigerator  crisper.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  green  beans — for 
example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration.  Whole  beans  stored  this  way  should  keep 
for  about  seven  days. 

Many  people  wonder  about  the  possibility  of  freezing  green  beans,  or  purchasing  green  beans  that  have  already  been  frozen. 
Both  options  can  work — green  beans  are  definitely  a vegetable  that  can  be  frozen.  We've  seen  several  research  studies  on  the 
nutritional  consequences  of  freezing  green  beans,  and  most  studies  show  the  ability  of  green  beans  to  retain  valuable  amounts 
of  nutrients  for  3-6  months  after  freezing.  If  you  don't  have  fresh  green  beans  available  on  a year-round  basis,  purchasing 
frozen  green  beans  can  definitely  provide  you  with  a nutritionally  valuable  option. 

If  you  wish  to  freeze  green  beans  we  recommend  that  you  steam  the  green  beans  for  2-3  minutes.  Remove  from  heat  and  let 
them  cool  thoroughly  before  placing  them  in  freezer  bags  and  storing  them  in  your  freezer. 

It  is  good  to  remember  that  the  passage  of  time  appears  to  lessen  the  concentration  of  multiple  nutrients.  There  appears  to  be 
less  nutrient  loss  at  3 months  than  at  6 months,  and  you  may  want  to  limit  your  freezer  storage  of  green  beans  (whether  frozen 
at  home  or  pre-purchased  in  frozen  form)  to  about  3 months  for  this  reason. 


How  to  Enjoy 


A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 


• Green  beans  are  a classic  ingredient  in  Salad  Nicoise,  a French  cold  salad  dish  that  combines  steamed  green  beans  with 
tuna  fish  and  potatoes. 

• Healthy  saute  green  beans  with  shiitake  mushrooms. 

• Prepare  the  perennial  favorite,  green  beans  almondine,  by  sprinkling  slivered  almonds  on  healthy  sauteed  beans. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Green  Beans 

• Marinated  Bean  Salad 

• 5 Spice  Chicken 

• 5-Minute  Green  Beans 

• Fennel  Green  Beans 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Green  Beans,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  44 

125.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

20.00  meg 

22 

9.1 

excellent 

manganese 

0.36  mg 

18 

7.4 

very  good 

vitamin  C 

12.13  mg 

16 

6.7 

very  good 

fiber 

4.00  g 

16 

6.6 

very  good 

folate 

41.25  meg 

10 

4.2 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.12  mg 

9 

3.8 

very  good 

cooper 

0.07  mg 

8 

3.2 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.09  mg 

8 

3.1 

good 

chromium 

2.04  meg 

6 

2.4 

good 

magnesium 

22.50  mg 

6 

2.3 

good 

calcium 

55.00  mg 

6 

2.3 

good 

DOtassium 

182.50  mg 

5 

2.1 

good 

phosphorus 

36.25  mg 

5 

2.1 

good 

choline 

21.13  mg 

5 

2.0 

good 

vitamin  A 

43.75  meg  RAE 

5 

2.0 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.77  mg 

5 

2.0 

good 

orotein 

2.36  g 

5 

1.9 

good 

omega-3  fats 

o.u  g 

5 

1.9 

good 

iron 

0.81  mg 

5 

1.9 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.07  mg 

4 

1.7 

good 

vitamin  E 

0.56  mg  (ATE) 

4 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 


Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Adams  MR,  Golden  DL,  Chen  H et  al.  A Diet  Rich  in  Green  and  Yellow  Vegetables  Inhibits  Atherosclerosis  in  Mice. 

The  Journal  of  Nutrition.  Bethesda:  Jul  2006.  Vol.  136,  Iss.  7;  pg.  1886-1889.  2006. 

• Anthon  GE  and  Barrett  DM.  Characterization  of  the  temperature  activation  of  pectin  methylesterase  in  green  beans  and 
tomatoes.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2006  Jan  1 1 ;54(1):204-1 1 . 2006. 

• Baardseth  P,  Bjerke  F,  Martinsen  BK  et  al.  Vitamin  C,  total  phenolics  and  antioxidative  activity  in  tip-cut  green  beans 
(Phaseolus  vulgaris)  and  swede  rods  (Brassica  napus  var.  napobrassica)  processed  by  methods  used  in  catering.  J Sci 
Food  Agric.  2010  May;90(7):  1245-55.  2010. 

• Blackburn  GL,  Phillips  JC,  Morreale  S.  Physician's  guide  to  popular  low-carbohydrate  weight-loss  diets.  Cleve  Clin  J 
Med  2001  Sep;68(9):761,  765-6,  768-9,  773-4.  2001.  PMID:  18590. 

• Danesi  F and  Bordoni  A.  Effect  of  home  freezing  and  Italian  style  of  cooking  on  antioxidant  activity  of  edible 
vegetables.  J Food  Sci.  2008  Aug;  73(6):H109-12.  2008. 

• EL-Qudah  JM.  Identification  and  Quantification  of  Major  Carotenoids  in  Some  Vegetables.  American  Journal  of 
Applied  Sciences,  2009;  6(3):492-497.  2009. 

• Lopez  Hernandez  J,  Gonzalez-Castro  MJ,  Simal-Lozano  J et  al.  GC  determination  of  fatty  acids  in  green  beans  grown  in 
Galicia  (N.W.  Spain).  Grasas  y Aceites,  1996;  47(3):  1 82- 1 85.  1996. 

• Luthria  DL  and  Pastor-Corrales  MA.  Phenolic  acids  content  of  fifteen  dry  edible  bean  (Phaseolus  vulgaris  L.)  varieties. 
Journal  of  food  composition  and  analysis,  2006;  19(2-3):  205-211.  2006. 

• Nursal  B and  Yiicecan  S.  Vitamin  C losses  in  some  frozen  vegetables  due  to  various  cooking  methods.  Nahrung.  2000 
Dec;  44(6):45 1-3.  2000. 

• Oomah  BD,  Corb  A and  Balasubramanian  P.  Antioxidant  and  Anti-inflammatory  Activities  of  Bean  (Phaseolus  vulgaris 
L.)  Hulls.  J.  Agric.  Food  Chem.,  2010,  58  (14),  pp  8225-8230.  2010. 

• Ranilla  LG,  Genovese  MI  and  Lajolo  FM.  Effect  of  different  cooking  conditions  on  phenolic  compounds  and  antioxidant 
capacity  of  some  selected  Brazilian  bean  (Phaseolus  vulgaris  L.)  cultivars.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  Jul  8;  57(1 3):5734- 
42.  2009. 

• Rickman  JC,  Barrett  DM  and  Bruhn  CM.  Nutritional  comparison  of  fresh,  frozen  and  canned  fruits  and  vegetables.  Part 
1.  Vitamins  C and  B and  phenolic  compounds.  J Sci  Food  Agric  87:930-944  (2007).  2007. 

• Rumm-Kreuter  D and  Demmel  I.  Comparison  of  vitamin  losses  in  vegetables  due  to  various  cooking  methods.  J Nutr  Sci 
Vitaminol  (Tokyo).  1990;  36  Suppl  1:S7-14;  discussion  S14-5.  1990. 

• Sripanyakorn  S,  Jugdaohsingh  R,  Dissayabutr  W et  al.  The  comparative  absorption  of  silicon  from  different  foods  and 
food  supplements.  The  British  Journal  of  Nutrition.  Cambridge:  Sep  28,  2009.  Vol.  102,  Iss.  6;  pg.  825-834.  2009. 

• Tosun  BN  and  S.  Yucecan.  Influence  of  Home  Freezing  and  Storage  on  Vitamin  C Contents  of  Some  Vegetables. 

Pakistan  Journal  of  Nutrition,  2007;  6(5):472-477.  2007. 

• Venkateswaran  S,  Pari  L and  Saravanan  G.  Effect  of  Phaseolus  vulgaris  on  Circulatory  Antioxidants  and  Lipids  in  Rats 
with  Streptozotocin-Induced  Diabetes.  Journal  of  Medicinal  Food.  June  2002,  5(2):  97-103.  2002. 

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Green  peas 

Green  Peas  are  Our  Food  of  the  Week 

This  week  we  celebrate  green  peas,  a favorite  spring  vegetable  now  in  the  peak  of  its  season.  It  is  the  time  when  they  have  the 
best  flavor  and  are  usually  the  least  expensive..  Green  peas  are  a great  addition  to  your  menu  because  in  addition  to  their 
concentration  of  vitamins  and  minerals,  they  also  provide  the  carotenoid  phytonutrients,  lutein  and  zeaxanthin,  which  are 
known  to  promote  vision  and  eye  health. 

• Learn  How  to  Add  Green  Pes  to  YourHealthiest  Wav  of  Eating  Step-bv-Step::  Blending/Scraping  Pureed  Food  (beans, 
peas,  tofu) 

• Why  is  the  food  of  the  week  among  the  WHFoods? 

• Healthy  Eating  with  the  Seasons 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Green  Peas 

• We  don't  usually  think  about  green  peas  as  an  exotic  food  in  terms  of  nutrient  composition — but  we  should.  Because  of 
their  sweet  taste  and  starchy  texture,  we  know  that  green  peas  must  contain  some  sugar  and  starch  (and  they  do).  But 
they  also  contain  a unique  assortment  of  health-protective  phytonutrients.  One  of  these  phytonutrients — a polyphenol 
called  coumestrol— has  recently  come  to  the  forefront  of  research  with  respect  to  stomach  cancer  protection.  A Mexico 
City-based  study  has  shown  that  daily  consumption  of  green  peas  along  with  other  legumes  lowers  risk  of  stomach 
cancer  (gastric  cancer),  especially  when  daily  coumestrol  intake  from  these  legumes  is  approximately  2 milligrams  or 
higher.  Since  one  cup  of  green  peas  contains  at  least  10  milligrams  of  coumestrol,  it's  not  difficult  for  us  to  obtain  this 
remarkable  health  benefit. 

• The  unique  phytonutrients  in  green  peas  also  provide  us  with  key  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits.  Included 
in  these  phytonutrients  are  some  recently-discovered  green  pea  phytonutrients  called  saponins.  Due  to  their  almost 
exclusive  appearance  in  peas,  these  phytonutrients  actually  contain  the  scientific  word  for  peas  ( Pisum ) in  their  names: 
pisumsaponins  I and  II,  and  pisomosides  A and  B.  When  coupled  with  other  phytonutrients  in  green  peas — including 
phenolic  acids  like  ferulic  and  caffeic  acid,  and  flavanols  like  catechin  and  epicatechin — the  combined  impact  on  our 
health  may  be  far-reaching.  For  example,  some  researchers  have  now  speculated  that  the  association  between  green  pea 
and  legume  intake  and  lowered  risk  of  type  2 diabetes  may  be  connected  not  only  with  the  relatively  low  glycemic  index 
of  green  peas  (about  45-50)  and  their  strong  fiber  and  protein  content,  but  also  with  this  unusual  combination  of 
antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  phytonutrients. 

• Green  peas  stand  out  as  an  environmentally  friendly  food.  Agricultural  research  has  shown  that  pea  crops  can  provide 
the  soil  with  important  benefits.  First,  peas  belong  to  a category  of  crops  called  "nitrogen  fixing"  crops.  With  the  help  of 
bacteria  in  the  soil,  peas  and  other  pulse  crops  are  able  to  take  nitrogen  gas  from  the  air  and  convert  it  into  more  complex 
and  usable  forms.  This  process  increases  nitrogen  available  in  the  soil  without  the  need  for  added  fertilizer.  Peas  also 
have  a relatively  shallow  root  system  which  can  help  prevent  erosion  of  the  soil,  and  once  the  peas  have  been  picked,  the 
plant  remainders  tend  to  break  down  relatively  easily  for  soil  replenishment.  Finally,  rotation  of  peas  with  other  crops 
has  been  shown  to  lower  the  risk  of  pest  problems.  These  environmentally  friendly  aspects  of  pea  production  add  to  their 
desirability  as  a regular  part  of  our  diet. 

• Even  though  green  peas  are  an  extremely  low-fat  food  (with  approximately  one-third  gram  of  total  fat  per  cup)  the  type 
of  fat  and  fat-soluble  nutrients  they  contain  is  impressive.  Recent  research  has  shown  that  green  peas  are  a reliable 
source  of  omega-3  fats  in  the  form  of  alpha-linolenic  acid  (ALA).  In  one  cup  of  green  peas,  you  can  expect  to  find  about 
30  milligrams  of  ALA.  About  130  milligrams  of  the  essential  omega-6  fatty  acid,  linoleic  acid,  can  also  be  found  in  a 
cup  of  green  peas.  This  very  small  but  high-quality  fat  content  of  green  peas  helps  provide  us  with  important  fat-soluble 
nutrients  from  this  legume,  including  sizable  amounts  of  beta-carotene  and  small  but  valuable  amounts  of  vitamin  E. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

Many  public  health  organizations — including  the  American  Diabetes  Association,  the  American  Heart  Association,  and  the 
American  Cancer  Society — recommend  legumes  as  a key  food  group  for  preventing  disease  and  optimizing  health.  The  2005 
Dietary  Guidelines  for  Americans  developed  by  the  U.S.  Department  of  Health  and  Human  Services  (USDHHS)  and  the  U.S. 
Department  of  Agriculture  (USD A)  recommends  3 cups  of  legumes  per  week  (based  on  a daily  intake  of  approximately  2,000 
calories).  Because  1 serving  of  legumes  was  defined  as  1/2  cup  (cooked),  the  Dietary  Guidelines  for  Americans  come  very 
close  to  recommending  of  1/2  cup  of  cooked  legumes  on  a daily  basis.  Based  on  our  own  research  review,  we  believe  that  3 
cups  of  legumes  per  week  is  a very  reasonable  goal  for  support  of  good  health.  However,  we  also  believe  that  optimal  health 


benefits  from  legumes  may  require  consumption  of  legumes  in  greater  amounts.  These  greater  amounts  are  based  on  studies  in 
which  legumes  have  been  consumed  at  least  4 days  per  week  and  in  amounts  falling  into  a 1-2  cup  range  per  day.  These  studies 
suggest  a higher  optimal  health  benefit  level  than  the  2005  Dietary  Guidelines:  instead  of  3 cups  of  weekly  legumes,  4-8  cups 
would  become  the  goal  range.  Remember  that  any  amount  of  legumes  is  going  to  make  a helpful  addition  to  your  diet.  And 
whatever  weekly  level  of  legumes  you  decide  to  target,  we  definitely  recommend  inclusion  of  green  peas  among  your  legume 
choices. 


Green  Peas,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(137.75  grams) 

Calories:  116 
GI:  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

40% 

manganese 

36% 

■ 

vitamin  B 1 

30% 

fiber 

30% 

copper 

27% 

^ ■ 

vitamin  C 

26% 

phosphorus 

23% 

folate 

22% 

vitamin  B6 

18% 

vitamin  B3 

17% 

vitamin  B2 

16% 

protein 

15% 

■ 

zinc 

15% 

■ 

molybdenum 

15% 

■ 

magnesium 

13% 

iron 

12% 

potassium 

11% 

choline 

10% 

Health  Benefits 

Given  their  exceptionally  strong  nutrient  composition,  we've  been  surprised  at  the  relatively  small  amount  of  research 
specifically  focused  on  green  peas  as  a health-supporting  food.  Green  peas  have  been  largely  overlooked  in  research  studies  on 
legumes,  which  have  tended  to  concentrate  only  on  beans.  In  studies  where  the  health  benefits  of  green  peas  have  been  directly 
examined,  it's  usually  been  in  their  dried  versus  fresh  form.  These  research  trends  are  ones  that  we  would  really  like  to  see 
reversed!  Due  to  the  lack  of  wide-scale  health  research  on  green  peas,  many  of  the  connections  that  we  would  expect  to  see 
need  further  research  substantiation.  Despite  the  lack  of  studies  directly  linking  green  pea  intake  to  improved  health,  we 
believe  that  the  outstanding  nutrient  composition  of  green  peas  will  eventually  be  shown  to  have  far-reaching  health  benefits, 
extending  well  beyond  the  ones  presented  in  this  Health  Benefits  section. 

Antioxidant  and  Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

If  you  have  traditionally  thought  about  green  peas  as  a "starchy  vegetable"  that  cannot  provide  you  with  very  much  in  the  way 
of  phytonutrients  or  body  systems  support,  it's  time  that  you  change  your  thinking.  Green  peas  are  loaded  with  antioxidants  and 
anti-inflammatory  nutrients,  and  these  health-supportive  nutrients  are  provided  in  a wide  range  of  nutrient  categories.  For 
example,  in  the  flavonoid  category,  green  peas  provide  us  with  the  antioxidants  catechin  and  epicatechin.  In  the  carotenoid 
category,  they  offer  alpha-carotene  and  beta-carotene.  Their  phenolic  acids  include  ferulic  and  caffeic  acid.  Their  polyphenols 
include  coumestrol.  Pisumsaponins  I and  II  and  pisomosides  A and  B are  anti-inflammatory  phytonutrients  found  almost 
exclusively  in  peas.  Antioxidant  vitamins  provided  by  green  peas  include  vitamin  C and  vitamin  E,  and  a good  amount  of  the 
antioxidant  mineral  zinc  is  also  found  in  this  amazing  food.  Yet  another  key  anti-inflammatory  nutrient  needs  to  be  added  to 
this  list,  and  that  nutrient  is  omega-3  fat.  Recent  research  has  shown  that  green  peas  are  a reliable  source  of  omega-3  fat  in  the 
form  of  alpha-linolenic  acid  (ALA).  In  one  cup  of  green  peas,  you  can  expect  to  find  about  30  milligrams  of  ALA. 

Ordinarily,  we  would  expect  this  extraordinary  list  of  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  to  be  associated  with  lower 
risk  of  most  inflammatory  diseases,  including  heart  disease,  type  2 diabetes,  and  arthritis.  Although  large-scale  studies  on 
green  pea  intake  and  these  chronic  health  problems  remain  unavailable,  researchers  have  already  begun  to  suggest  connections 
in  this  area,  particularly  with  respect  to  type  2 diabetes.  We  know  that  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation  and  chronic,  unwanted 
oxidative  stress  increase  our  risk  of  type  2 diabetes.  We  also  know  that  intake  of  green  peas  is  associated  with  lowered  risk  of 


type  2 diabetes,  even  though  this  association  has  traditionally  been  understood  to  involve  the  strong  fiber  and  protein  content 
of  green  peas.  Researchers  now  believe  that  the  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  in  greens  peas  play  an  equally 
important  role  in  lowering  our  risk  of  this  chronic  health  problem. 

Support  for  Blood  Sugar  Regulation 

As  mentioned  in  the  previous  section,  blood  sugar  regulation  has  been  an  area  of  special  interest  with  respect  to  green  peas  and 
its  fellow  legumes.  Few  foods  provide  us  with  such  substantial  amounts  of  protein  or  fiber  (about  8-10  grams  per  cup  for  each 
of  these  macronutrients)  as  green  peas.  These  outstanding  fiber  and  protein  amounts  directly  regulate  the  pace  at  which  we 
digest  our  food.  By  helping  to  regulate  the  pace  of  digestion,  protein  and  fiber  also  help  regulate  the  break  down  of  starches 
into  sugars  and  the  general  passage  of  carbs  through  out  digestive  tract.  With  better  regulation  of  carbs,  our  blood  sugar  levels 
can  stay  steadier. 

Recent  research  has  greatly  expanded  our  understanding  of  these  health  benefits.  What  we  now  know  is  that  green  peas  and 
other  pulses  can  help  us  lower  our  fasting  blood  sugar  as  well  as  our  fasting  insulin  levels.  Our  long-term  control  of  blood 
sugar  (as  measured  by  lab  testing  of  glycosylated  hemoblobin  and  fructosamine)  is  also  improved  by  intake  of  green  peas. 
When  combined  with  an  overall  high-fiber  diet,  these  benefits  are  increased.  They  are  also  increased  when  green  peas  are 
consumed  as  part  of  an  overall  diet  that  is  low  in  glycemic  index. 

The  outstanding  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrient  composition  of  green  peas  are  very  likely  to  play  a role  in  these 
blood  sugar  benefits.  Regular  consumption  of  antioxidant  nutrients  can  help  us  prevent  chronic,  unwanted  oxidative  stress, 
while  regular  consumption  of  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  can  help  us  prevent  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation.  Chronic 
inflammation  and  chronic  oxidative  stress  are  well-established  risk  factors  for  type  2 diabetes.  Lowering  our  risk  in  these  two 
areas  is  very  likely  to  be  one  of  the  mechanisms  involved  with  the  diabetes-preventing  benefits  of  green  peas. 

Heart  Health  Promotion 

An  area  we  expected  to  find  well-documented  health  benefits  from  green  peas  is  the  area  of  cardiovascular  disease.  While  we 
did  not  find  specific  research  documentation  in  this  area,  we  are  confident  that  future  research  will  confirm  key  health  benefits 
from  green  peas  in  relationship  to  cardiovascular  protection.  Our  reasoning  here  is  simple.  First,  we  know  that  strong 
antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  protection  is  needed  for  healthy  functioning  of  our  blood  vessels.  The  formation  of  plaque 
along  our  blood  vessel  walls  starts  with  chronic,  excessive  oxidative  stress  and  inflammation.  Few  foods  are  better  equipped  to 
provide  us  with  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  than  green  peas.  Second,  we  know  that  intake  of  omega-3  fat 
lowers  our  risk  of  cardiovascular  problems.  Green  peas  are  a reliable  source  of  omega-3  fat  in  the  form  of  alpha-linolenic  acid, 
or  ALA.  One  cup  of  green  peas  provides  us  with  ALA  in  an  amount  of  approximately  30  milligrams.  Third,  we  know  that  high 
levels  of  homocysteine  raise  our  risk  of  cardiovascular  disease,  and  that  ample  amounts  of  B vitamins  are  required  to  help  keep 
our  homocysteine  levels  in  check.  Green  peas  provide  us  with  very  good  amounts  of  vitamin  B 1 and  folate,  and  good  amounts 
of  vitamins  B2,  B3,  and  B6.  The  critical  cardioprotective  B vitamin,  choline,  is  also  provided  by  green  peas  in  amounts  of 
approximately  40  per  cup.  In  combination,  these  nutrient  features  of  green  peas  point  to  a likely  standout  role  for  this  food  in 
protection  of  our  cardiovascular  health. 

Protection  Against  Stomach  Cancer 

Excessive  inflammation  and  oxidative  stress  are  risk  factors  not  only  for  the  development  of  chronic  diseases  like  type  2 
diabetes,  but  also  for  the  development  of  cancers.  A recent  research  study  has  begun  to  examine  the  benefits  of  green  peas  with 
respect  to  one  particular  type  of  cancer — stomach  cancer.  Stomach  cancer  (also  called  gastric  cancer)  is  a disease  that  occurs 
more  commonly  in  persons  who  have  very  low  intake  of  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients,  including  key  nutrients 
called  polyphenols.  A recent  study  based  in  Mexico  City  has  shown  that  daily  consumption  of  green  peas  along  with  other 
legumes  is  associated  with  decreased  risk  of  stomach  cancer.  In  particular,  decreased  risk  of  stomach  cancer  in  this  study  was 
associated  with  average  daily  intake  of  a polyphenol  called  coumestrol  at  a level  of  2 milligrams  or  higher.  Pulses  (including 
green  peas)  were  determined  to  be  a key  food  contributor  to  coumestrol  in  this  Mexico-based  study.  Since  one  cup  of  green 
peas  contains  at  least  10  milligrams  of  coumestrol,  green  peas  are  very  likely  to  provide  some  unique  health  benefits  in  this 
cancer-prevention  area.  Of  course,  coumestrol  is  not  the  only  cancer-protective  nutrient  present  in  green  peas!  The  wide  variety 
of  antioxidants  and  anti-inflammatory  phytonutrients  in  green  peas  is  very  likely  to  play  a primary  role  in  the  cancer- 
preventive  benefits  of  this  food. 


Description 


Legumes  are  plants  that  bear  fruit  in  the  form  of  pods  enclosing  the  fleshy  seeds  we  know  as  beans.  Peas  are  one  of  the  few 
members  of  the  legume  family  that  are  commonly  sold  and  cooked  as  fresh  vegetables.  Other  members  of  the  legume  family, 
including  lentils,  chickpeas,  and  beans  of  all  colors  are  most  often  sold  in  dried  form.  There  are  generally  three  types  of  peas 
that  are  commonly  eaten:  garden  or  green  peas  ( Pisum  sativum),  snow  peas  ( Pisum  sativum  var.  macrocarpon ) and  snap  peas 
( Pisum  sativum  var.  macrocarpon  ser.  cv.).  Garden  peas  have  rounded  pods  that  are  usually  slightly  curved  in  shape  with  a 
smooth  texture  and  vibrant  green  color.  Inside  of  them  are  green  rounded  pea  seeds  that  are  sweet  and  starchy  in  taste.  Snow 
peas  are  flatter  than  garden  peas,  and  since  they  are  not  fully  opaque,  you  can  usually  see  the  shadows  of  the  flat  peas  seeds 
within.  Snap  peas,  a cross  between  the  garden  and  snow  pea,  have  plump  pods  with  a crisp,  snappy  texture.  The  pods  of  both 
snow  peas  and  snap  peas  are  edible,  and  both  feature  a slightly  sweeter  and  cooler  taste  than  the  garden  pea.  Peas  and  other 
legumes  belong  to  the  plant  family  known  as  the  Fabaceae,  which  is  also  commonly  called  the  bean  family  or  the  pulse  family. 
In  fact,  commercial  production  of  peas  is  commonly  placed  within  the  category  of  pulse  production,  and  like  its  fellow 
legumes,  peas  are  often  referred  to  as  "pulses." 

History 

The  modem-day  garden  pea  is  thought  to  have  originated  from  the  field  pea  that  was  native  to  central  Asia  and  the  Middle 
East.  Because  its  cultivation  dates  back  thousands  and  thousands  of  years,  the  green  pea  is  widely  recognized  as  one  of  the  first 
food  crops  to  be  cultivated  by  humans.  Peas  were  apparently  consumed  in  dry  form  throughout  much  of  their  early  history,  and 
did  not  become  widely  popular  as  a fresh  food  until  changes  in  cultivation  techniques  that  took  place  in  Europe  in  the  16th 
century.  Peas  are  now  grown  throughout  the  world  in  nearly  every  climatic  zone,  and  are  widely  consumed  in  both  fresh  and 
dried  form. 

While  growing  approximately  3 million  tons  of  peas  per  year,  Canada  is  currently  the  largest  world  producer  and  exporter  of 
peas.  France,  China,  Russia,  and  India  are  also  large-scale  producers  of  this  legume.  Despite  being  a large-scale  producer  of 
peas,  India  is  also  the  world's  largest  importer  of  this  food  due  to  its  great  popularity  in  that  country. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Only  about  5%  of  the  peas  grown  are  sold  fresh;  the  rest  are  either  frozen  or  canned.  When  trying  to  decide  between  frozen  and 
canned  green  peas,  the  following  information  may  be  helpful: 

• Frozen  peas  are  better  able  to  retain  their  color,  texture,  and  flavor  than  canned  peas.  Recent  research  has  confirmed  that 
these  "important  sensory  characteristics"  of  green  peas  are  not  affected  by  freezing  over  periods  of  1-3  months. 

• Both  canned  and  frozen  peas  may  contain  relatively  high  levels  of  sodium.  Unless  labeled  as  "low  sodium"  or  "reduced 
sodium"  or  containing  "50%  less  sodium"  or  something  similar,  you  can  expect  to  find  650-800  milligrams  of  sodium  in 
one  cup  of  canned  green  peas.  Some  of  this  sodium  can  be  removed  by  thorough  rinsing,  and  we  definitely  encourage 
you  to  do  so.  Reduced  sodium  canned  peas  will  often  bring  the  sodium  content  down  to  250-300  milligrams  of  sodium. 
Even  in  this  case,  you  can  lower  the  sodium  even  further  by  thoroughly  rinsing  the  peas.  In  the  case  of  frozen  green 
peas,  it's  not  uncommon  to  find  300  milligrams  of  sodium  in  one  cup  of  frozen  green  peas — approximately  the  same 
amount  as  found  in  reduced  sodium  canned  peas.  This  relatively  high  sodium  level  in  frozen  peas  results  from  green  pea 
processing  methods,  not  from  the  natural  sodium  content  of  the  peas.  When  large  batches  of  peas  are  prepared  for 
freezing,  producers  separate  out  the  older  and  starchier  peas  prior  to  freezing.  A common  method  used  to  separate  out 
the  starchier  peas  is  to  immerse  them  in  salty  water.  This  process,  called  the  salt  brine  process,  allows  the  younger,  more 
tender,  and  less  starchy  peas  to  float  on  top  of  the  salt  water,  while  letting  the  older,  less  tender,  and  starchier  peas  to  sink 
to  the  bottom.  Even  though  the  younger  and  less  starchy  peas  are  rinsed  with  water  after  being  separated  out,  they  can 
still  contain  relatively  high  levels  of  sodium. 

• Neither  frozen  peas  nor  canned  peas  have  an  unlimited  shelf  life.  In  the  case  of  frozen  peas,  it's  not  uncommon  to  see 
"use  by"  dates  that  indicate  a 24-30  month  shelf  life.  However,  based  on  the  overall  research  findings  on  nutrient  content 
of  frozen  peas  during  storage,  we  recommend  that  you  consume  your  frozen  peas  within  6-12  months  of  the  packing 
date.  (If  no  packing  date  is  available,  just  make  the  "use  by"  date  50%  sooner.) 

Overall,  we  recommend  the  selection  of  frozen  peas  over  canned  peas  and  recognize  the  convenience  of  frozen  over  fresh. 
However,  we  also  encourage  you  to  consider  fresh  peas  whenever  possible,  and  to  choose  them  according  to  the  following 
guidelines. 

When  purchasing  fresh  garden  peas,  look  for  ones  whose  pods  are  firm,  velvety  and  smooth.  Their  color  should  be  a lively 
medium  green.  Those  whose  green  color  is  especially  light  or  dark,  or  those  that  are  yellow,  whitish  or  are  speckled  with  gray, 
should  be  avoided.  Additionally,  do  not  choose  pods  that  are  puffy,  water  soaked  or  have  mildew  residue.  The  pods  should 
contain  peas  of  sufficient  number  and  size  that  there  is  not  much  empty  room  in  the  pod.  You  can  tell  this  by  gently  shaking  the 


pod  and  noticing  whether  there  is  a slight  rattling  sound.  All  varieties  of  fresh  peas  should  be  displayed  in  a refrigerated  case 
since  heat  will  hasten  the  conversion  of  their  sugar  content  into  starch. 

Unlike  the  rounded  pods  of  garden  peas,  the  pods  of  snow  peas  are  flat.  You  should  be  able  to  see  the  shape  of  the  peas  through 
the  non-opaque  shiny  pod.  Choose  smaller  ones  as  they  tend  to  be  sweeter. 

To  test  the  quality  of  snap  peas,  snap  one  open  and  see  whether  it  is  crisp.  They  should  be  bright  green  in  color,  firm  and 
plump. 

Garden  peas  are  generally  available  from  spring  through  the  beginning  of  winter.  Snow  peas  can  usually  be  found  throughout 
the  year  in  Asian  markets  and  from  spring  through  the  beginning  of  winter  in  supermarkets.  Snap  peas  are  more  limited  in  their 
availability.  They  are  generally  available  from  late  spring  through  early  summer. 

If  you  will  not  be  using  fresh  peas  on  the  day  of  purchase,  which  is  the  best  way  to  enjoy  them,  you  should  refrigerate  them  as 
quickly  as  possible  in  order  to  preserve  their  sugar  content,  preventing  it  from  turning  into  starch.  Unwashed,  unshelled  peas 
stored  in  the  refrigerator  in  a bag  or  unsealed  container  will  keep  for  several  days.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  green  peas — for 
example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

Fresh  peas  can  also  be  blanched  for  one  or  two  minutes  and  then  frozen.  If  you  decide  to  blanch  and  freeze  your  green  peas,  we 
recommend  a maximum  storage  period  of  6-12  months. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Add  fresh  peas  to  green  salads. 

• Healthy  Saute  snap  peas  with  shiitake  mushrooms. 

• Mix  green  peas  with  chicken,  diced  onions  and  almonds  to  make  a delicious  and  colorful  chicken  salad. 

• Fresh  pea  pods  are  a great  food  to  pack  in  a lunch  box. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Green  Peas 

• Mediterranean-Style  Salad 

• Seared  Tuna  Salad 

• 15-Minute  Maui-Stvle  Cod  >li>Lemon  Fish  with  Puree  of  Sweet  Peas 

• Minted  Green  Peas  & Carrots 

• Pureed  Sweet  Peas 

• Sauteed  Mushrooms  with  Green  Peas 

• Sauteed  Vegetables  with  Cashews 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Green  Peas,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
137.75  grams 

Calories:  116 
GI:  low 

Nutrient 

Amount 

DRI/DV 

(%) 

Nutrient 

Density 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

1 I 1 1 

vitamin  K 

35.68  meg 

40 

6.2 

very  good 

manganese 

0.72  mg 

36 

5.6 

very  good 

fiber 

7.58  g 

30 

4.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.36  mg 

30 

4.7 

very  good 

cooDer 

0.24  mg 

27 

4.1 

very  good 

vitamin  C 

19.56  mg 

26 

4.1 

very  good 

ohosphoms 

161.17  mg 

23 

3.6 

very  good 

folate 

86.78  meg 

22 

3.4 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.30  mg 

18 

2.7 

good 

vitamin  B3 

2.78  mg 

17 

2.7 

good 

vitamin  B2 

0.21  mg 

16 

2.5 

good 

molvbdenum 

6.89  meg 

15 

2.4 

good 

zinc 

1.64  mg 

15 

2.3 

good 

orotein 

7.38  g 

15 

2.3 

good 

magnesium 

53.72  mg 

13 

2.1 

good 

iron 

2.12  mg 

12 

1.8 

good 

DOtassium 

373.30  mg 

11 

1.7 

good 

choline 

40.91  mg 

10 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRLDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Babatola  LA,  Ojo  DO  and  Lawal  10.  Influence  of  Storage  Conditions  on  Quality  and  Shelf  Life  of  Stored  Peas.  Journal 
of  Biological  Sciences  2008,  8(2):  446-450.  2008. 

• Edelenbos  M,  Christensen  LP  and  Grevsen  K.  HPLC  determination  of  chlorophyll  and  carotenoid  pigments  in  processed 
green  pea  cultivars  (Pisum  sativum  L.).  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2001  Oct;49(10):4768-74.  2001. 

• Hernandez-Ramirez  R,  Galvan-Portillo  M,  Ward  M et  al.  Dietary  intake  of  polyphenols,  nitrate  and  nitrite  and  gastric 
cancer  risk  in  Mexico  City.  Int  J Cancer.  2009  September  15;  125(6):  1424-1430.  2009. 

• Ismail  A,  Tiong  NW,  Tan  ST  et  al.  Antioxidant  properties  of  selected  non-leafy  vegetables.  Nutrition  and  Food  Science. 
Bradford:  2009.  Vol.  39,  Iss.  2;  p.  176-180.  2009. 

• Jokanovic  MR,  Jovicevic  D,  Tepic  AN  et  al.  Suitability  of  some  green  pea  (Pisum  sativum  L.)  varieties  for  processing. 
Suitability  of  some  green  pea  (Pisum  sativum  L.)  varieties  for  processing.  Acta  Periodica  Technologica  2006,  37:  13-20. 
2006. 

• Lisiewska  Z,  Slupski  J,  Kmiecik  W et  al.  Effect  of  pre-freezing  and  culinary  treatment  on  the  content  of  amino  acids  of 
green  pea.  Acta  Scientiarum  Polonorum  2008,  7(4):  5-14.  2008. 

• Moriyama  M and  Oba  K.  Comparative  study  on  the  vitamin  C contents  of  the  food  legume  seeds.  J Nutr  Sci  Vitaminol 
(Tokyo).  2008  Feb;54(l):l-6.  2008. 

• Murakami  T,  Kohno  K,  Matsuda  H et  al.  Medicinal  foodstuffs.  XXII.  Structures  of  oleanane-type  triterpene 
oligoglycosides,  pisumsaponins  I and  II,  and  kaurane-type  diterpene  oligoglycosides,  pisumosides  A and  B,  from  green 
peas,  the  immatu.  Chem  Pharm  Bull  (Tokyo).  2001  Jan;49(l):73-7.  2001. 

• Rickman  JC,  Barrett  DM  and  Bruhn  CM.  Nutritional  comparison  of  fresh,  frozen  and  canned  fruits  and  vegetables.  Part 
1.  Vitamins  C and  B and  phenolic  compounds.  J Sci  Food  Agric  87:930-944  (2007).  2007. 

• Sievenpiper  JL,  Kendall  CW,  Esfahani  A et  al.  Effect  of  non-oil-seed  pulses  on  glycaemic  control:  a systematic  review 
and  meta-analysis  of  randomised  controlled  experimental  trials  in  people  with  and  without  diabetes.  Diabetologia.  2009 
Aug;52(8):  1479-95.  2009. 

• Trinidad  TP,  Mallillin  AC,  Loyola  AS  et  al.  The  potential  health  benefits  of  legumes  as  a good  source  of  dietary  fibre.  Br 
J Nutr.  2010  Feb;103(4):569-74.  Epub  2009  Oct  14.  2010. 

• Xu  BJ,  Yuan  SH  and  Chang  SK.  Comparative  analyses  of  phenolic  composition,  antioxidant  capacity,  and  color  of  cool 
season  legumes  and  other  selected  food  legumes.  J Food  Sci.  2007  Mar;72(2):S167-77.  2007. 


Yoshida  H,  Tomiyama  Y,  Saiki  M et  al.  Tocopherol  Content  and  Fatty  Acid  Distribution  of  Peas  (Pisum  sativum  L.). 
JAOCS,  Journal  of  the  American  Oil  Chemists'  Society  2007,  84(11):  1031-1038.  2007. 

Zhang  D,  Hendricks  DG,  Mahoney  AW  et  al.  Bioavailability  of  Iron  in  Green  Peas,  Spinach,  Bran  Cereal,  and  Cornmeal 
Fed  to  Anemic  Rats.  Journal  of  Food  Science,  1985;  50(2):  426-428.  1985. 


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Kale 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Kale 

• Kale  can  provide  you  with  some  special  cholesterol-lowering  benefits  if  you  will  cook  it  by  steaming.  The  fiber-related 
components  in  kale  do  a better  job  of  binding  together  with  bile  acids  in  your  digestive  tract  when  they've  been  steamed. 
When  this  binding  process  takes  place,  it's  easier  for  bile  acids  to  be  excreted,  and  the  result  is  a lowering  of  your 
cholesterol  levels.  Raw  kale  still  has  cholesterol-lowering  ability — just  not  as  much. 

• Kale's  risk-lowering  benefits  for  cancer  have  recently  been  extended  to  at  least  five  different  types  of  cancer.  These  types 
include  cancer  of  the  bladder,  breast,  colon,  ovary,  and  prostate.  Isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  made  from  glucosinolates  in  kale 
play  a primary  role  in  achieving  these  risk-lowering  benefits. 

• Kale  is  now  recognized  as  providing  comprehensive  support  for  the  body's  detoxification  system.  New  research  has 
shown  that  the  ITCs  made  from  kale's  glucosinolates  can  help  regulate  detox  at  a genetic  level. 

• Researchers  can  now  identify  over  45  different  flavonoids  in  kale.  With  kaempferol  and  quercetin  heading  the  list,  kale's 
flavonoids  combine  both  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits  in  way  that  gives  kale  a leading  dietary  role  with 
respect  to  avoidance  of  chronic  inflammation  and  oxidative  stress. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  kale  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the  fantastic 
health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  we  recommend  3/4  cup  of  cruciferous  vegetables 
on  a daily  basis.  This  amount  is  equivalent  to  approximately  5 cups  per  week.  A more  optimal  intake  amount  would  be  1-1/2 
cups  per  day,  or  about  10  cups  per  week.  You  can  use  our  Veggie  Advisor  for  help  in  figuring  out  your  best  cruciferous 
vegetable  options. 

Kale  is  one  of  the  healthiest  vegetables  around  and  one  way  to  be  sure  to  enjoy  the  maximum  nutrition  and  flavor  from  kale  is 
to  cook  it  properly.  We  recommend  Healthy  Steaming  kale  for  5 minutes.  To  ensure  quick  and  even  cooking  cut  the  leaves  into 
1/2"  slices  and  the  stems  into  1/4"  lengths.  Let  them  sit  for  at  least  5 minutes  to  enhance  their  health-promoting  qualities  before 
steaming.  See  our  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Kale  in  the  How  to  Enjoy  section  below. 


Kale,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(130.00  grams) 

Calories:  36 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

1180% 

vitamin  A 

98% 

vitamin  C 

71% 

manganese 

27% 

copper 

22% 

vitamin  B6 

11% 

fiber 

10% 

calcium 

9% 

potassium 

8% 

iron 

7% 

vitamin  E 

7% 

vitamin  B2 

7% 

magnesium 

6% 

vitamin  B 1 

6% 

protein 

5% 

phosphorus 

5% 

omega-3  fats 

5% 

vitamin  B3 

4% 

folate 

4% 

Health  Benefits 


While  not  as  well  researched  as  some  of  its  fellow  cruciferous  vegetables  like  broccoli  or  cabbage,  kale  is  a food  that  you  can 
count  on  for  some  unsurpassed  health  benefits,  if  for  no  other  reason  than  its  exceptional  nutrient  richness.  In  our  own  website 
food  rating  system,  kale  scored  4 "excellents,"  6 "very  goods,"  and  10  "goods" — for  a total  of  20  standout  categories  of 
nutrient  richness!  That  achievement  is  difficult  for  most  foods  to  match. 

Antioxidant-Related  Health  Benefits 

Like  most  of  its  fellow  cruciferous  vegetables,  kale  has  been  studied  more  extensively  in  relationship  to  cancer  than  any  other 
health  condition.  This  research  focus  makes  perfect  sense.  Kale's  nutrient  richness  stands  out  in  three  particular  areas:  (1) 
antioxidant  nutrients,  (2)  anti-inflammatory  nutrients,  and  (3)  anti-cancer  nutrients  in  the  form  of  glucosinolates.  Without 
sufficient  intake  of  antioxidants,  our  oxygen  metabolism  can  become  compromised,  and  we  can  experience  a metabolic 
problem  called  "oxidative  stress."  Without  sufficient  intake  of  anti-inflammatory  nutrients,  regulation  of  our  inflammatory 
system  can  become  compromised,  and  we  can  experience  the  problem  of  chronic  inflammation.  Oxidative  stress  and  chronic 
inflammation — and  the  combination  of  these  metabolic  problems — are  risk  factors  for  development  of  cancer.  We've  seen 
research  studies  on  5 specific  types  of  cancer — including  bladder  cancer,  breast  cancer,  colon  cancer,  ovarian  cancer,  and 
prostate  cancer — and  intake  of  cruciferous  vegetables  (specifically  including  kale).  As  a group,  these  studies  definitely  show 
cancer  preventive  benefits  from  kale  intake,  and  in  some  cases,  treatment  benefits  as  well. 

Kale's  cancer  preventive  benefits  have  been  clearly  linked  to  its  unusual  concentration  of  two  types  of  antioxidants,  namely, 
carotenoids  and  flavonoids.  Within  the  carotenoids,  lutein  and  beta-carotene  are  standout  antioxidants  in  kale.  Researchers 
have  actually  followed  the  passage  of  these  two  carotenoids  in  kale  from  the  human  digestive  tract  up  into  the  blood  stream, 
and  they  have  demonstrated  the  ability  of  kale  to  raise  blood  levels  of  these  carotenoid  nutrients.  That  finding  is  important 
because  lutein  and  beta-carotene  are  key  nutrients  in  the  protection  of  our  body  from  oxidative  stress  and  health  problems 
related  to  oxidative  stress.  Increased  risk  of  cataracts,  atherosclerosis,  and  chronic  obstructive  pulmonary  disease  (COPD)  are 
three  such  problems.  Also  among  these  chronic  health  problems  is  cancer  since  our  overall  risk  of  cells  becoming  cancerous  is 
partly  related  to  oxidative  stress. 

Within  the  flavonoids,  kaempferol  is  a spotlight  antioxidant  in  kale,  followed  by  a flavonoid  called  quercitin.  But  recent 
research  has  also  made  it  clear  that  at  least  45  different  antioxidant  flavonoids  are  provided  in  measurable  amounts  by  kale. 
This  broad  spectrum  of  flavonoid  antioxidants  is  likely  to  be  a key  to  kale's  cancer-preventive  benefits  and  benefits  that  we 
expect  to  be  documented  for  other  health  problems  stemming  from  oxidative  stress. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Health  Benefits 

We  have  yet  to  see  research  on  kale's  omega-3  content  and  inflammation,  but  we  would  expect  this  kind  of  research  to  show 
the  omega-3  s in  kale  to  be  an  important  part  of  kale's  anti-inflammatory  benefits.  It  only  takes  100  calories  of  kale  to  provide 
over  350  milligrams  for  the  most  basic  omega-3  fatty  acid  (alpha-linolenic  acid,  or  ALA).  We  suspect  that  this  amount  will  be 
plenty  to  show  direct  anti-inflammatory  benefits  from  routine  kale  intake. 

We  also  have  yet  to  see  specific  research  on  inflammation  and  kale's  vitamin  K content.  But  we  know  that  kale  is  a spectacular 
source  of  vitamin  K (one  cup  of  kale  provides  far  more  micrograms  of  vitamin  K than  any  of  our  World's  Healthiest  foods)  and 
we  also  know  that  vitamin  K is  a key  nutrient  for  helping  regulate  our  body's  inflammatory  process.  Taken  in  combination,  we 
expect  these  two  facts  about  vitamin  K to  eventually  get  tied  together  in  health  research  that  shows  kale  to  be  an  exceptional 
food  for  lowering  our  risk  of  chronic  inflammation  and  associated  health  problems. 

Glucosinolates  and  Cancer-Preventive  Benefits 

What  we  have  already  seen  in  the  health  research  on  kale  is  ample  evidence  that  its  glucosinolates  provide  cancer-preventive 
benefits.  Kale  is  a top  food  source  for  at  least  four  glucosinolates,  and  once  kale  is  eaten  and  digested,  these  glucosinolates  can 
be  converted  by  the  body  into  cancer  preventive  compounds.  Kale's  glucosinolates  and  the  ITCs  made  from  them  have  well- 
documented  cancer  preventive  properties,  and  in  some  cases,  cancer  treatment  properties  as  well.  At  the  top  of  the  cancer- 
related  research  for  kale  are  colon  cancer  and  breast  cancer,  but  risk  of  bladder  cancer,  prostate  cancer,  and  ovarian  cancer  have 
all  been  found  to  decrease  in  relationship  to  routine  intake  of  kale.  The  chart  below  presents  a summary  of  the  unusual 
glucosinlate  phytonutrients  found  in  kale,  and  the  anti-cancer  ITCs  made  from  them  inside  the  body 

Glucosinolates  in  kale  and  their  detox-activating  isothiocyanates 


Glucosinolate 

Derived  Isothiocyanate 

Isothiocyanate  Abbreviation 

glucobrassicin 

indole-3  -carbinol* 

I3C 

glucoraphanin 

sulforaphane 

SFN 

gluconasturtiian 

phenethyl-isothiocyanate 

PEITC 

glucopaeolin 

benzyl-isothiocyanate 

BITC 

sinigrin 

allyl-isothiocyanate 

AITC 

* Indole-3 -carbinol  (I3C)  is  not  an  isothiocyanate.  It's  a benzopyrrole,  and  it  is  only  fonned  when  isothiocyanates  made  from 
glucobrassicin  are  further  broken  down  into  non-sulfur  containing  compounds. 

Cardiovascular  Support 

You  can  count  on  kale  to  provide  valuable  cardiovascular  support  in  terms  of  its  cholesterol-lowering  ability.  Researchers  now 
understand  exactly  how  this  support  process  works.  Our  liver  uses  cholesterol  as  a basic  building  block  to  product  bile  acids. 
Bile  acids  are  specialized  molecules  that  aid  in  the  digestion  and  absorption  of  fat  through  a process  called  emulsification. 
These  molecules  are  typically  stored  in  fluid  form  in  our  gall  bladder,  and  when  we  eat  a fat-containing  meal,  they  get  released 
into  the  intestine  where  they  help  ready  the  fat  for  interaction  with  enzymes  and  eventual  absorption  up  into  the  body.  When 
we  eat  kale,  fiber-related  nutrients  in  this  cruciferous  vegetable  bind  together  with  some  of  the  bile  acids  in  the  intestine  in 
such  a way  that  they  simply  stay  inside  the  intestine  and  pass  out  of  our  body  in  a bowel  movement,  rather  than  getting 
absorbed  along  with  the  fat  they  have  emulsified.  When  this  happens,  our  liver  needs  to  replace  the  lost  bile  acids  by  drawing 
upon  our  existing  supply  of  cholesterol,  and,  as  a result,  our  cholesterol  level  drops  down.  Kale  provides  us  with  this 
cholesterol-lowering  benefit  whether  it  is  raw  or  cooked.  However,  a recent  study  has  shown  that  the  cholesterol-lowering 
ability  of  raw  kale  improves  significantly  when  it  is  steamed.  In  fact,  when  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  steamed  kale 
was  compared  with  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  the  prescription  drug  cholestyramine  (a  medication  that  is  taken  for  the 
purpose  of  lowering  cholesterol),  kale  bound  42%  as  many  bile  acids  (based  on  a standard  of  comparison  involving  total 
dietary  fiber).  Amongst  all  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables,  only  collard  greens  scored  higher  at  46%. 

Other  Health-Related  Benefits 

Kale  has  a definite  role  to  play  in  support  of  the  body's  detoxification  processes.  The  isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  made  from  kale's 
glucosinolates  have  been  shown  to  help  regulate  detox  activities  in  our  cells.  Most  toxins  that  pose  a risk  to  our  body  must  be 
detoxified  by  our  cells  using  a two-step  process.  The  two  steps  in  the  process  are  called  Phase  I detoxification  and  Phase  II 
detoxification.  The  ITCs  made  from  kale's  glucosinolates  have  been  shown  to  favorably  modify  both  detox  steps  (Phase  1 and 
Phase  II).  In  addition,  the  unusually  large  numbers  of  sulfur  compounds  in  kale  have  been  shown  to  help  support  aspects  of 
Phase  II  detoxification  that  require  the  presence  of  sulfur.  By  supporting  both  aspects  of  our  cellular  detox  process  (Phase  I and 
Phase  II),  nutrients  in  kale  can  give  our  body  an  "edge  up"  in  dealing  with  toxic  exposure,  whether  from  our  environment  or 
from  our  food. 

We  have  yet  to  see  studies  that  look  directly  at  kale  and  its  support  for  our  digestive  system.  However,  we  have  seen  studies  for 
kale's  fellow  cruciferous  vegetable — broccoli — in  this  regard,  and  we  definitely  expect  to  see  future  research  that  looks  directly 
at  kale  and  our  digestive  function.  We  predict  that  one  area  of  digestive  support  provided  by  kale  will  turn  out  to  involve  fiber. 
We  feel  that  7 grams  of  fiber  per  100  calories  of  kale  is  just  too  much  fiber  to  fail  in  the  digestive  benefits  category.  We  predict 
that  a second  area  of  digestive  benefits  will  involve  kale's  glucosinolates.  The  ITCs  make  from  kale's  glucosinolates  should 
help  protect  our  stomach  lining  from  bacterial  overgrowth  of  Helicobacter  pylori  and  should  help  avoid  too  much  clinging  by 
this  bacterium  to  our  stomach  wall. 

Description 

The  beautiful  leaves  of  the  kale  plant  provide  an  earthy  flavor  and  more  nutritional  value  for  fewer  calories  than  almost  any 
other  food  around.  Although  it  can  be  found  in  markets  throughout  the  year,  it  is  in  season  from  the  middle  of  winter  through 
the  beginning  of  spring  when  it  has  a sweeter  taste  and  is  more  widely  available. 

Kale  is  a leafy  green  vegetable  that  belongs  to  the  Brassica  family,  a group  of  vegetables  including  cabbage,  collards,  and 
Brussels  sprouts  that  have  gained  recent  widespread  attention  due  to  their  health-promoting,  sulfur-containing  phytonutrients. 

It  is  easy  to  grow  and  can  grow  in  colder  temperatures  where  a light  frost  will  produce  especially  sweet  kale  leaves.  There  are 
several  varieties  of  kale;  these  include  curly  kale,  ornamental  kale,  and  dinosaur  (or  Lacinato  or  Tuscan)  kale,  all  of  which 
differ  in  taste,  texture,  and  appearance.  The  scientific  name  for  kale  is  Brassica  oleracea. 

Curly  kale  has  ruffled  leaves  and  a fibrous  stalk  and  is  usually  deep  green  in  color.  It  has  a lively  pungent  flavor  with  delicious 
bitter  peppery  qualities. 


Ornamental  kale  is  a more  recently  cultivated  species  that  is  oftentimes  referred  to  as  salad  savoy.  Its  leaves  may  either  be 
green,  white,  or  purple  and  its  stalks  coalesce  to  form  a loosely  knit  head.  Ornamental  kale  has  a more  mellow  flavor  and 
tender  texture. 

Dinosaur  kale  is  the  common  name  for  the  kale  variety  known  as  Lacinato  or  Tuscan  kale.  It  features  dark  blue-green  leaves 
that  have  an  embossed  texture.  It  has  a slightly  sweeter  and  more  delicate  taste  than  curly  kale. 

History 

Like  broccoli,  cauliflower,  and  collards,  kale  is  a descendent  of  the  wild  cabbage,  a plant  thought  to  have  originated  in  Asia 
Minor  and  to  have  been  brought  to  Europe  around  600  B.C.  by  groups  of  Celtic  wanderers.  Curly  kale  played  an  important  role 
in  early  European  foodways,  having  been  a significant  crop  during  ancient  Roman  times  and  a popular  vegetable  eaten  by 
peasants  in  the  Middle  Ages.  English  settlers  brought  kale  to  the  United  States  in  the  17th  century. 

Both  ornamental  and  dinosaur  kale  are  much  more  recent  varieties.  Dinosaur  kale  was  discovered  in  Italy  in  the  late  19th 
century.  Ornamental  kale,  originally  a decorative  garden  plant,  was  first  cultivated  commercially  as  in  the  1980s  in  California. 
Ornamental  kale  is  now  better  known  by  the  name  salad  savoy. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Look  for  kale  with  firm,  deeply  colored  leaves  and  moist  hardy  stems.  Kale  should  be  displayed  in  a cool  environment  since 
warm  temperatures  will  cause  it  to  wilt  and  will  negatively  affect  its  flavor.  The  leaves  should  look  fresh,  be  unwilted,  and  be 
free  from  signs  of  browning,  yellowing,  and  small  holes.  Choose  kale  with  smaller-sized  leaves  since  these  will  be  more  tender 
and  have  a more  mild  flavor  than  those  with  larger  leaves.  Kale  is  available  throughout  the  year,  although  it  is  more  widely 
available,  and  at  its  peak,  from  the  middle  of  winter  through  the  beginning  of  spring. 

To  store,  place  kale  in  a plastic  storage  bag  removing  as  much  of  the  air  from  the  bag  as  possible.  Store  in  the  refrigerator 
where  it  will  keep  for  5 days.  The  longer  it  is  stored,  the  more  bitter  its  flavor  becomes.  Do  not  wash  kale  before  storing 
because  exposure  to  water  encourages  spoilage.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  kale — for  example,  its  vitamin  C content — is  likely 
to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Braise  chopped  kale  and  apples.  Before  serving,  sprinkle  with  balsamic  vinegar  and  chopped  walnuts. 

• Combine  chopped  kale,  pine  nuts,  and  feta  cheese  with  whole  grain  pasta  drizzled  with  olive  oil. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Kale 

• Healthy  Breakfast  Frittata 

• Italian  Tofu  Frittata 

• Poached  Eggs  Over  Sauteed  Greens 

• Minestrone  Surprise 

• Spicy  Posole  Soup 

• Super  Energy  Kale  Soup 

• Turkey  and  Vegetable  Chili  Verde 

• Sesame  Braised  Chicken  & Cabbage 

• Indian  Style  Lamb  with  Sweet  Potatoes 

• 5 -Minute  Kale 

• 5-Minute  Kale  with  Sea  Vegetables 


Safety 

Kale  and  Goitrogens 


You  may  sometimes  hear  kale  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is  "goitrogenic."  For 
helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What  is  meant  bv  the 
term  "eoitroaen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Kale,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  36 

130.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

1062.10  meg 

1180 

583.6 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

885.36  meg  RAE 

98 

48.6 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

53.30  mg 

71 

35.1 

excellent 

maneanese 

0.54  mg 

27 

13.4 

excellent 

coDDer 

0.20  mg 

22 

11.0 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.18  mg 

11 

5.2 

very  good 

fiber 

2.60  g 

10 

5.1 

very  good 

calcium 

93.60  mg 

9 

4.6 

very  good 

DOtassium 

296.40  mg 

8 

4.2 

very  good 

vitamin  E 

1.11  mg  (ATE) 

7 

3.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.09  mg 

7 

3.4 

very  good 

iron 

1.17  mg 

7 

3.2 

good 

maanesium 

23.40  mg 

6 

2.9 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.07  mg 

6 

2.9 

good 

omeea-3  fats 

0.13  g 

5 

2.7 

good 

DhosDhoms 

36.40  mg 

5 

2.6 

good 

Drotein 

2.47  g 

5 

2.4 

good 

folate 

16.90  meg 

4 

2.1 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.65  mg 

4 

2.0 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

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2009  Dec;139(12):2393-6.  2009. 

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• Konsue  N,  Ioannides  C.  Modulation  of  carcinogen-metabolising  cytochromes  P450  in  human  liver  by  the 
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• Kunimasa  K,  Kobayashi  T,  Kaji  K et  al.  Antiangiogenic  effects  of  indole-3-carbinol  and  3,3'-diindolylmethane  are 
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• Larsson  SC,  Andersson  SO,  Johansson  JE,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  consumption  and  risk  of  bladder  cancer:  a 
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• Li  F,  Hullar  MAJ,  Schwarz  Y,  et  al.  Human  Gut  Bacterial  Communities  Are  Altered  by  Addition  of  Cruciferous 
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• Nakamura  Y,  Yogosawa  S,  Izutani  Y et  al.  A combination  of  indol-3-carbinol  and  genistein  synergistically  induces 
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• Pellegrini  N,  Chiavaro  E,  Gardana  C et  al.  Effect  of  Different  Cooking  Methods  on  Color,  Phytochemical  Concentration, 
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• Prawan  A,  Saw  CL,  Khor  TO  et  al.  Anti-NF-kappaB  and  anti-inflammatory  activities  of  synthetic  isothiocyanates:  effect 
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• Silberstein  JL,  Parsons  JK.  Evidence-based  principles  of  bladder  cancer  and  diet.  Urology.  2010  Feb;75(2):340-6.  2010. 

• Steinbrecher  A,  Linseisen  J.  Dietary  Intake  of  Individual  Glucosinolates  in  Participants  of  the  EPIC-Heidelberg  Cohort 
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• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Guru  K et  al.  Consumption  of  Raw  Cruciferous  Vegetables  is  Inversely  Associated  with  Bladder 
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• Tarozzi  A,  Morroni  F,  Merlicco  A,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  as  an  inducer  of  glutathione  prevents  oxidative  stress-induced  cell 
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• Thompson  CA,  Habermann  TM,  Wang  AH,  et  al.  Antioxidant  intake  from  fruits,  vegetables  and  other  sources  and  risk 
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Leeks 


WHFoods  Recommendations 

With  their  unique  combination  of  flavonoids  and  sulfur-containing  nutrients,  the  allium  vegetables  belong  in  your  diet  on  a 
regular  basis.  There's  research  evidence  for  including  at  least  one  serving  of  an  allium  vegetable  in  your  meal  plan  every  day.  If 
you're  choosing  leeks,  make  your  individual  portion  1/2  cup  or  greater,  and  try  to  include  at  least  one  cup  of  chopped  leeks  in 
your  recipes. 

Many  people  are  unfamiliar  with  how  to  cook  leeks  or  how  to  include  them  in  a Healthiest  Way  of  Eating.  We  recommend 
cutting  them  very  thinly  and  preparing  them  by  using  our  Healthy  Saute  method  of  cooking.  Like  their  allium  cousins,  onions 
and  garlic,  let  leeks  sit  for  at  least  5 minutes  after  cutting  and  before  cooking.  Our  Tips  for  Preparing  and  Cooking  and  How  to 
Enjoy  sections  below  will  give  you  more  details  on  the  best  ways  to  bring  leeks  into  your  meal  plan. 


Leeks,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(104.00  grams) 


Calories:  32 

GI:  medium 


Nutrient 


DRI/DV 


vitamin  K 

29% 

manganese 

13% 

Conner 

7% 

vitamin  B6 

7% 

folate 

6% 

vitamin  C 

6% 

iron 

6% 

vitamin  A 

5% 

fiber 

4% 

magnesium 

4% 

calcium 

3% 

vitamin  E 

3% 

omega-3  fats 

3% 

Health  Benefits 

Leeks,  like  garlic  and  onions,  belong  to  a vegetable  family  called  the  Allium  vegetables.  Since  leeks  are  related  to  garlic  and 
onions,  they  contain  many  of  the  same  beneficial  compounds  found  in  these  well-researched,  health-promoting  vegetables. 

Cardiovascular  Support 

Leeks  contain  important  amounts  of  the  flavonoid  kaempferol,  which  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  help  protect  our  blood 
vessel  linings  from  damage,  including  damage  by  overly  reactive  oxygen  molecules.  Interestingly,  one  of  the  mechanisms 
involved  in  this  blood  vessel  protection  may  involve  increased  production  of  nitric  oxide  (NO),  a naturally  occurring  gas  that 
helps  to  dilate  and  relax  the  blood  vessels,  as  well  as  decreased  production  of  that  asymmetric  dimethylarginine  (ADMA),  a 
substance  that  blocks  production  of  NO. 

Often  overlooked  in  leeks  is  their  important  concentration  of  the  B vitamin  folate.  Folate  is  present  in  leeks  in  one  of  its 
bioactive  forms  (5-methyltetrahydrofolate,  or  5MTHF)  and  it  is  present  throughout  the  plant  (including  the  full  leaf  portion, 
not  only  the  lower  leaf  and  bulb).  While  it's  true  that  we  still  get  about  50%  more  5MTHF  from  the  bulb  than  the  leaves,  this 
distribution  of  folate  throughout  the  plant  makes  leeks  a cardioprotective  food  from  top  to  bottom.  (Folate  is  a key  B complex 
vitamin  for  supporting  our  cardiovascular  system,  because  it  helps  keep  our  levels  of  homocysteine  in  proper  balance. 
Excessively  high  levels  of  homocysteine  are  a risk  factor  for  many  cardiovascular  diseases.) 

Also  present  in  leeks  are  impressive  concentrations  of  antioxidant  polyphenols.  These  polyphenols  play  a direct  role  in 
protecting  our  blood  vessels  and  blood  cells  from  oxidative  damage.  The  total  polyphenol  content  (TPC)  of  leeks  averages 
about  33  milligrams  of  gallic  acid  equivalents  (GAE)  per  100  grams  of  fresh  edible  portion  (FEP).  By  contrast,  the  TPC  of  red 
bell  peppers  averages  27  milligrams;  cherry  tomatoes,  24  milligrams;  and  carrots,  10  milligrams.  So  even  though  leeks  are  less 


concentrated  than  some  of  their  fellow  allium  vegetables  in  terms  of  total  polyphenols  (garlic  provides  about  59  milligrams 
GAE/lOOg  FEP,  and  onions  provide  about  76  milligrams),  they  are  still  a highly  valuable  food  in  terms  of  these  phytonutrient 
antioxidants  and  provide  us  with  important  cardiovascular  benefits  for  this  reason. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

Unfortunately,  leeks  have  received  less  research  attention  than  their  fellow  allium  vegetables  (especially  garlic  and  onions), 
and  for  this  reason,  there  is  less  documentation  of  their  likely  health  benefits.  Given  their  substantial  polyphenol  content, 
including  their  notable  amounts  of  kaempferol,  we  would  expect  to  see  overlap  with  garlic  and  onions  in  terms  of  support  for 
many  health  problems  related  to  oxidative  stress  and  chronic  low-level  inflammation.  These  health  problems  would  include 
atherosclerosis,  type  2 diabetes,  obesity,  rheumatoid  arthritis,  and  allergic  airway  inflammation.  We  would  also  expect  to  see 
leeks  providing  measurable  amounts  of  protection  against  several  different  types  of  cancer,  mostly  likely  including  colorectal 
cancer.  It's  important  to  remember  that  even  in  the  absence  of  research  studies  to  confirm  health  benefits,  leeks  still  belong  to 
the  same  allium  vegetable  family  as  onions  and  garlic  and  contain  many  health-supportive  substances  that  are  similar  to  (or 
identical  with)  the  substances  in  their  fellow  allium  vegetables. 

Description 

Leeks,  known  scientifically  as  Allium  porrum,  are  related  to  garlic,  onions,  shallots,  and  scallions.  Leeks  look  like  large 
scallions,  having  a very  small  bulb  and  a long  white  cylindrical  stalk  of  superimposed  layers  that  flows  into  green,  tightly 
wrapped,  flat  leaves.  Cultivated  leeks  are  usually  about  12  inches  in  length  and  one  to  two  inches  in  diameter  and  feature  a 
fragrant  flavor  that  is  reminiscent  of  shallots  but  sweeter  and  more  subtle.  Wild  leeks,  known  as  ramps,  are  much  smaller  in 
size,  but  have  a stronger,  more  intense  flavor.  They  are  available  for  a short  period  of  time  each  year  and  are  often  widely 
sought  out  at  farmers  markets  when  they  are  in  season. 

With  a more  delicate  and  sweeter  flavor  than  onions,  leeks  add  a subtle  touch  to  recipes  without  overpowering  the  other  flavors 
that  are  present.  Although  leeks  are  available  throughout  the  year  they  are  in  season  from  the  fall  through  the  early  part  of 
spring  when  they  are  at  their  best. 

The  flavonoids  in  leeks  are  most  concentrated  in  their  lower  leaf  and  bulb  portion.  The  flavonol  kaempferol  is  one  of  leeks' 
premiere  flavonoids,  and  it's  also  most  concentrated  in  the  lower  leaf  and  bulb.  Leeks  rank  ahead  of  white  onions  in  terms  of 
their  kaempferol  content,  but  they  still  provide  slightly  less  kaempferol  than  red  onions.  For  other  types  of  flavonoids, 
including  quercetin,  leeks  appear  to  provide  lower  concentrations  than  most  types  of  onions. 

History 

Leeks  enjoy  a long  and  rich  history,  one  that  can  trace  its  heritage  back  through  antiquity.  Thought  to  be  native  to  Central  Asia, 
they  have  been  cultivated  in  this  region  and  in  Europe  for  thousands  of  years. 

Leeks  were  prized  by  the  ancient  Greeks  and  Romans  and  were  especially  revered  for  their  beneficial  effect  upon  the  throat. 
The  Greek  philosopher  Aristotle  credited  the  clear  voice  of  the  partridge  to  a diet  of  leeks,  while  the  Roman  emperor  Nero 
supposedly  ate  leeks  everyday  to  make  his  voice  stronger. 

The  Romans  are  thought  to  have  introduced  leeks  to  the  United  Kingdom,  where  they  were  able  to  flourish  because  they  could 
withstand  cold  weather.  Leeks  have  attained  an  esteemed  status  in  Wales,  where  they  serve  as  this  country's  national  emblem. 
The  Welsh  regard  for  leeks  can  be  traced  back  to  a battle  that  they  successfully  won  against  that  Saxons  in  1620,  during  which 
the  Welsh  soldiers  placed  leeks  in  their  caps  to  differentiate  themselves  from  their  opponents.  Today,  leeks  are  an  important 
vegetable  in  many  northern  European  cuisines  and  are  grown  in  many  European  countries. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Leeks  should  be  firm  and  straight  with  dark  green  leaves  and  white  necks.  Good  quality  leeks  will  not  be  yellowed  or  wilted, 
nor  have  bulbs  that  have  cracks  or  bruises.  Since  overly  large  leeks  are  generally  more  fibrous  in  texture,  only  purchase  those 
that  have  a diameter  of  one  and  one-half  inches  or  less.  Try  to  purchase  leeks  that  are  of  similar  size  so  as  to  ensure  more 
consistent  cooking  if  you  are  planning  on  cooking  the  leeks  whole.  Leeks  are  available  throughout  the  year,  although  they  are 
in  greater  supply  from  the  fall  through  the  early  part  of  spring. 

Fresh  leeks  should  be  stored  unwashed  and  untrimmed  in  the  refrigerator,  where  they  will  keep  fresh  for  between  one  and  two 
weeks.  Wrapping  them  loosely  in  a plastic  bag  will  help  them  to  retain  moisture.  Loss  of  some  nutrients  in  leeks — for  example, 


its  vitamin  C content — is  likely  to  be  slowed  down  through  refrigeration. 

Cooked  leeks  are  highly  perishable,  and  even  when  kept  in  the  refrigerator,  will  only  stay  fresh  for  about  two  days.  Leeks  may 
be  frozen  after  being  blanched  for  two  to  three  minutes,  although  they  will  lose  some  of  their  desirable  taste  and  texture 
qualities.  Leeks  will  keep  in  the  freezer  for  about  three  months. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Healthy  saute  leeks  and  fennel.  Garnish  with  fresh  lemon  juice  and  thyme. 

• Add  finely  chopped  leeks  to  salads. 

• Make  vichyssoise,  a cold  soup  made  from  pureed  cooked  leeks  and  potatoes. 

• Add  leeks  to  broth  and  stews  for  extra  flavoring. 

• Braised  leeks  sprinkled  with  fennel  or  mustard  seeds  make  a wonderful  side  dish  for  fish,  poultry  or  steak. 

• Add  sliced  leeks  to  your  favorite  omelet  or  frittata  recipe. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Leeks 

• Poached  Eggs  Over  Sauteed  Greens 

• Braised  Salmon  with  Leeks 

• Sauteed  Greens 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Leeks,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  32 

104.00  grams  GI:  medium 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

26.42  meg 

29 

16.4 

excellent 

manuanese 

0.26  mg 

13 

7.3 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.12  mg 

7 

3.9 

very  good 

cooner 

0.06  mg 

7 

3.7 

very  good 

iron 

1.14  mg 

6 

3.5 

very  good 

folate 

24.96  meg 

6 

3.5 

very  good 

vitamin  C 

4.37  mg 

6 

3.3 

good 

vitamin  A 

42.22  meg  RAE 

5 

2.6 

good 

fiber 

1.04  g 

4 

2.3 

good 

maenesium 

14.56  mg 

4 

2.0 

good 

vitamin  E 

0.52  mg  (ATE) 

3 

1.9 

good 

calcium 

31.20  mg 

3 

1.7 

good 

omeea-3  fats 

0.07  g 

3 

1.6 

good 

World's  Healthiest 


Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Brat  P,  George  S,  Bellamy  A,  et  al.  Daily  polyphenol  intake  in  France  from  fruit  and  vegetables.  J Nutr.  2006 
Sep;  136(9):2368-73.  2006. 

• Chun  OK,  Chung  SJ,  and  Song  WO.  Estimated  dietary  flavonoid  intake  and  major  food  sources  of  U.S.  adults.  J Nutr. 
2007  May;137(5):1244-52.  2007. 

• Nimni  ME,  Han  B and  Cordoba  F.  Are  we  getting  enough  sulfur  in  our  diet?.  Nutr  Metab  (Lond).  2007  Nov  6;4:24-36. 
2007. 

• Phillips  KM,  Rasor  AS,  Ruggio  DM,  et  al.  Folate  content  of  different  edible  portions  of  vegetables  and  fruits.  Nutrition 
& Food  Science  2008,  38(2):175-181.  2008. 

• Somerset  SM  and  Johannot  L.  Dietary  flavonoid  sources  in  Australian  adults.  Nutr  Cancer.  2008;60(4):442-9.  2008. 

• Xiao  HB,  Jun-Fang,  Lu  XY  et  al.  Protective  effects  of  kaempferol  against  endothelial  damage  by  an  improvement  in 
nitric  oxide  production  and  a decrease  in  asymmetric  dimethylarginine  level.  European  Journal  of  Pharmacology  Volume 
616,  Issues  1-3,  15  August  2009,  Pages  213-222.  2009. 

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Mushrooms,  crimini 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Crimini  Mushrooms 

• You  can  definitely  make  a difference  in  the  health  benefits  you  get  from  mushrooms  by  being  extra  careful  with  the 
temperature  at  which  you  store  them.  A recent  study  looked  at  color  and  texture  changes  in  mushrooms  over  a 6-8  day 
period,  including  color  changes  that  were  associated  with  the  mushrooms'  phytonutrient  content  (discoloration  was 
related  to  a reduction  in  these  important  nutrients).  As  temperatures  moved  closer  and  closer  to  room  temperature  (the 
researchers  stopped  at  59°F/15°C  in  their  study),  discoloration  and  hardening  became  more  and  more  problematic. 
Prevention  of  discoloration  and  hardening  required  the  researchers  to  take  the  temperature  down  all  the  way  to  38°F/3°C 
over  this  6-8  day  period.  Since  38°F/3°C  is  great  temperature  setting  for  your  home  refrigerator,  what  we're  talking  about 
here  is  careful  refrigeration  of  mushrooms  as  soon  as  you've  arrived  back  home  from  the  grocery  store.  Leaving 
mushrooms  out  on  the  countertop  is  worth  avoiding,  and  you  never  want  to  store  them  even  temporarily  in  a cabinet. 

• Like  most  mushrooms,  crimini  mushrooms  can  provide  us  with  unique  immune  system  support.  But  contrary  to  public 
belief,  these  common  button-type  mushrooms  have  recently  been  shown  to  surpass  some  of  their  more  exotic  mushroom 
counterparts  (like  shiitake  or  maitake  mushrooms)  in  terms  of  immune  system  benefits.  We've  seen  several  recent  studies 
that  placed  button  mushrooms  at  the  top  of  the  mushroom  list  with  respect  to  regulation  of  unwanted  inflammation. 
Included  here  were  studies  on  laboratory  animals  involving  the  development  of  arthritis— an  area  where  we  expect  to  see 
more  news  about  the  health  benefits  of  mushrooms. 

• Protection  against  cardiovascular  disease  has  become  an  area  of  special  research  interest  in  crimini  mushrooms.  Along 
with  extracts  from  oyster,  shiikate,  maitake,  and  white  button  mushrooms,  extracts  from  crimini  mushrooms  have  been 
found  to  reduce  the  binding  of  certain  immune  cells  onto  the  lining  of  the  aorta.  When  mushrooms  reduce  this  binding, 
they  also  lower  risk  of  damage  to  the  aorta  and  risk  of  blood  flow  problems. 

• For  women  who  are  at  risk  of  hormone-dependent  breast  cancer,  crimini  mushrooms  may  be  an  important  diet  addition. 
These  mushrooms  have  recently  been  shown  to  be  a significant  source  of  conjugated  linolenic  acid  (CLA) — a unique 
type  of  fatty  acid  that  can  bind  onto  aromatase  enzymes  and  lessen  the  production  of  estrogen.  Since  some  breast  cancer 
tumors  are  dependent  upon  estrogen  for  their  growth,  this  blocking  of  the  aromatase  enzyme  by  the  mushrooms'  CLA 
may  lower  risk  of  this  breast  cancer  type.  The  presence  of  CLA  in  mushrooms  is  fascinating,  because  we  typically 
expect  to  find  this  type  of  fatty  acid  exclusively  in  animal  foods  like  milk,  cheese,  and  meats. 

• Crimini  mushrooms  may  sometimes  be  a valuable  source  of  vitamin  B 1 2.  Even  though  this  B 1 2 issue  can  be  a little 
confusing,  we  believe  it's  important  for  you  to  know  that  recent  studies  have  found  significant  amounts  of  vitamin  B 12 
in  some  samples  of  fresh  crimini  mushrooms.  The  B12  in  these  mushrooms  was  apparently  produced  by  healthy  bacteria 
growing  on  the  surface  of  the  fresh  mushrooms.  Mushroom  content  of  B12  varied  significantly,  and  sometimes  it  varied 
from  farm  to  farm.  That  kind  of  diversity  makes  sense  to  us  because  growing  conditions  for  mushrooms  can  vary 
dramatically.  Traditionally,  we've  thought  about  animal  foods  as  being  our  only  reliable  source  of  vitamin  B 12.  Animals 
tend  to  store  up  small  amounts  of  this  vitamin  after  it  has  been  produced  via  being  consumed  in  a food  or  produced  by 
bacteria  in  their  digestive  tract.  This  way  of  thinking  about  vitamin  B 12  still  holds  true.  However,  it  might  also  be  smart 
for  us  to  start  thinking  about  fresh  mushrooms  (including  fresh  crimini  mushrooms)  as  a potentially  valuable  source  of 
vitamin  B 12.  While  we  cannot  ask  fresh  mushrooms  for  a vitamin  B 12  guarantee,  we  can  count  on  them  for  a variety  of 
other  important  health  benefits,  and  along  with  these  benefits,  we  may  also  be  getting  a boost  in  our  B 12  intake. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

People  do  not  usually  consider  mushrooms,  including  crimini  mushrooms,  as  a part  of  their  meals  that  can  offer  great 
nutritional  value.  However,  the  nutritional  value  of  crimini  mushrooms  may  surprise  you.  One  cup  of  crimini  mushrooms 
provides  a good,  very  good,  or  excellent  source  of  15  different  vitamins,  minerals,  and  antioxidant  phytonutrients.  To 
maximize  their  flavor  and  the  retention  of  their  nutrients  it  is  important  to  not  to  overcook  them.  That's  why  we  recommend 
healthy  sauteeing  crimini  mushrooms  for  just  7 minutes  to  bring  out  their  best  flavor  while  maximizing  their  nutrient  retention. 
For  more  on  our  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  crimini  mushrooms  see  the  How  to  Enjoy  section. 


Mushrooms,  Crimini,  raw 
1.00  cup 
(72.00  grams) 

Calories:  16 

GI:  very  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

copper 

40% 

selenium 

34% 

vitamin  B2 

27% 

pantothenic  acid  22% 

vitamin  B3  17% 

phosphorus  12% 

potassium  9% 

zinc  7% 

vitamin  B 1 6% 

folate  5% 

vitamin  B6  5% 

manganese  5% 

protein  4% 

choline  4% 

vitamin  B 1 2 3% 


Health  Benefits 

Immune  System  Support 

White  blood  cells  play  a key  role  in  the  health  of  our  immune  system,  and  without  healthy  and  balanced  activity  on  the  part  of 
our  white  blood  cells,  we  cannot  protect  ourselves  from  diseases  caused  by  microorganisms  or  from  allergy-related  problems. 
There  are  many  important  types  of  white  blood  cells,  and  these  include  monocytes,  macrophages,  and  dendritic  cells.  All  three 
types  of  immune  cells  have  their  activity  levels  shifted  by  substances  found  in  crimini  mushrooms!  In  a remarkable  way, 
unique  phytonutrients  found  in  crimini  mushrooms  change  the  way  these  white  blood  cells  go  about  their  business.  In  some 
cases,  they  prevent  white  blood  cells  from  becoming  active  when  they  would  be  better  off  remaining  inactive.  In  other  cases, 
they  trigger  white  blood  cell  activity  when  more  activity  is  needed.  The  list  of  immune-impacting  phytonutrients  in  crimini 
mushroom  is  both  unusual  and  lengthy.  It  includes  beta-D-glucans,  fucogalactans,  APO  (2-amino-3H-phenoxazin-3-one),  p- 
tolyl-hydrazine,  and  a wide  range  of  substances  involving  unique  combinations  of  protein-plus-carbohydrate  components.  The 
role  of  a healthy  immune  system  in  helping  protect  us  against  arthritis,  development  of  cancer,  and  development  of 
cardiovascular  disease  has  been  examined  with  a focus  on  dietary  mushroom  intake,  and  evidence  suggests  that  crimini 
mushrooms  can  help  lower  our  risk  of  these  health  problems  by  supporting  balanced  activities  among  the  white  blood  cells  of 
our  immune  system. 

One  final  note  may  be  in  order  when  thinking  about  crimini  mushrooms  and  our  immune  system.  One  key  nutrient  for  healthy 
immune  system  function  is  vitamin  D,  and  crimini  mushrooms  do  provide  measurable  amounts  of  this  vitamin.  However,  the 
relationship  of  vitamin  D to  mushrooms  can  be  complicated.  The  form  of  vitamin  D most  commonly  found  in  mushrooms  is 
ergosterol  (sometimes  called  vitamin  Dl).  This  form  of  the  vitamin  is  not  active  in  humans  as  a hormone.  With  the  help  of 
sunlight,  some  of  the  ergosterol  in  mushrooms  can  be  converted  into  ergocalciferol  (sometimes  called  vitamin  D2).  However, 
since  mushrooms  do  not  require  sunlight  for  growth,  they  are  sometimes  produced  without  exposure  to  light  and,  in  this  case, 
would  not  provide  D2.  (Some  mushroom  growers  deliberately  expose  mushrooms  that  are  being  grown  in  the  dark  to  a short 
burst  of  light  that  can  help  some  of  the  Dl  in  mushrooms  get  converted  into  D2.)  Even  though  D2  can  be  useful  to  our  cells, 
this  D2  form  of  vitamin  D is  still  not  the  fully  active  hormonal  form.  That  fully  active  form  (vitamin  D3,  cholecalciferol)  is  not 
provided  by  mushrooms  whether  exposed  to  light  or  not.  From  our  perspective,  the  bottom  line  for  vitamin  D and  mushrooms 
is  much  like  the  bottom  line  for  vitamin  B 12  and  mushrooms.  You  cannot  count  on  mushrooms  to  be  helpful  with  your  vitamin 
D requirements  (just  like  you  cannot  count  on  them  to  be  helpful  in  meeting  your  vitamin  B12  requirements),  but  you  may  end 
up  getting  some  bonus  vitamin  D (and  vitamin  B12)  benefits  from  crimini  mushrooms,  along  with  their  other  amazing  health- 
supportive  nutrients. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

Risk  of  many  common  health  problems — including  type  2 diabetes,  cardiovascular  disease,  and  certain  types  of  cancer — is 
increased  by  the  presence  of  chronic  unwanted  inflammation.  Many  factors  can  contribute  to  chronic  inflammation,  and  these 
factors  include  overproduction  of  molecules  in  our  body  that  tell  it  to  launch  an  inflammatory  response.  If  production  of  these 
molecules — called  pro-inflammatory  molecules — can  be  reduced,  chronic  inflammation  can  be  reduced  or  sometimes 
prevented  altogether.  Intake  of  whole  fresh  mushrooms,  mushroom  extracts,  and  powdered/dried  mushrooms  has  been  shown 
to  accomplish  precisely  this  result — blocked  production  of  pro-inflammatory  molecules.  In  some  studies,  crimini  mushroom 
appears  to  be  a better  blocker  of  certain  pro-inflammatory  molecules  than  its  fellow  mushrooms  like  shiitake  and  maitake. 
These  anti-inflammatory  studies  have  usually  been  conducted  on  laboratory  animals,  and  have  usually  focused  on  pro- 
inflammatory  molecules  like  IL-10  (interleukin- 10),  IL-12  (interleukin- 12),  and  IFN-gamma  (interferon-gamma).  The  results 
of  these  studies  have  been  consistent  and  also  clear:  to  avoid  chronic  overproduction  of  pro-inflammatory  molecules,  it's 
helpful  to  include  crimini  mushrooms  in  a diet. 


Antioxidant  Benefits 


There  are  two  outstanding  types  of  antioxidant  support  provided  by  crimini  mushrooms.  The  first  type  involves  their  nutrient 
composition,  and  the  second  type  involves  their  impact  on  oxidative  metabolism.  In  terms  of  nutrients,  you  don't  have  to  look 
far  to  find  key  players  in  antioxidant  world:  crimini  mushrooms  provide  an  excellent  amount  of  selenium,  and  a very  good 
amount  of  zinc  and  manganese.  All  three  minerals  are  critical  antioxidant  nutrients  and  are  also  required  for  the  functioning  of 
antioxidant  enzymes.  The  antioxidant  content  of  crimini  mushrooms  also  includes  some  unusual  antioxidant  molecules.  The 
best  studied  of  these  molecules  is  ergothioneine  (technically  identified  as  2-mercaptohistidine  trimethylbetaine).  Ergothioneine 
is  an  amino  acid-like  molecule  that  has  not  only  been  shown  to  have  antioxidant  properties  but  to  also  specifically  help  prevent 
oxidative  damage  to  DNA  (our  genetic  material)  and  proteins. 

In  addition  to  providing  us  with  these  key  antioxidant  nutrients,  mushrooms  also  impact  our  oxidative  metabolism.  Intake  of 
crimini  mushrooms  and  crimini  mushrooms  extracts  has  been  studied  in  relationship  to  the  activity  of  several  oxidative 
enzymes,  including  SOD  (superoxide  dismutase),  CAT  (catalase),  and  GPO  (glutathione  peroxidase).  Most  of  these  oxidative 
enzyme  studies  have  been  conducted  on  animals,  including  mice,  rats,  and  chickens.  Addition  of  mushroom  to  the  animals' 
diets  in  relatively  small  amounts  has  been  shown  to  increase  enzyme  activity  and  in  the  case  of  GPO,  to  increase  the  cell's 
supply  of  glutathione  (GSH)  itself.  In  the  minds  of  many  researchers,  GSH  may  be  a central  antioxidant  in  many  cellular 
activities. 

Cardiovascular  Benefits 

Since  the  health  of  our  circulatory  system  depends  on  great  antioxidant  protection  and  effective  regulation  of  inflammation,  it 
is  not  surprising  to  see  crimini  mushrooms  providing  impressive  cardiovascular  benefits.  This  mushroom  is  simply  to  rich  in 
antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  to  go  unheralded  in  this  cardiovascular  area.  As  might  be  expected,  research 
studies  show  that  crimini  mushrooms  can  help  protect  us  from  cardiovascular  disease  by  protecting  our  blood  vessels  from 
oxidative  damage  as  well  as  chronic  inflammation.  This  protection  has  been  specifically  shown  with  respect  to  the  aorta— our 
body's  largest  blood  vessel.  Cardiovascular  protection  by  crimini  mushrooms  extends  beyond  these  antioxidant  and  anti- 
inflammatory areas,  however.  Research  studies  on  laboratory  animals  with  high  blood  levels  of  total  cholesterol,  LDL 
cholesterol,  and  triglycerides  (TGs)  have  also  shown  that  daily  intake  of  crimini  mushrooms  over  a period  of  1-2  months  can 
reduce  levels  of  all  three  blood  fats  (total  cholesterol,  LDL  cholesterol,  and  TGs. 

The  cardiovascular  benefits  from  crimini  mushrooms  also  involve  their  B vitamins.  In  addition  to  being  an  excellent  source  of 
vitamins  B2,  B3  (niacin),  and  B5  (pantothenic  acid),  crimini  mushrooms  are  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  B 1 , and  good 
source  of  vitamin  B6,  folate,  and  choline.  As  described  earlier  in  this  profile,  these  mushrooms  also  sometimes  provide  us  with 
a significant  amount  of  vitamin  B12.  The  B vitamin  choline  (about  19  milligrams  per  cup)  is  also  provided  by  this  B vitamin- 
rich  food.  One  hallmark  risk  factor  for  cardiovascular  disease  (especially  atherosclerosis)  is  an  elevated  level  of  homocysteine. 
This  amino  acid  lies  at  the  intersection  of  many  complicated  metabolic  pathways  important  to  the  healthy  function  of  our 
cardiovascular  system.  Deficiencies  of  vitamins  B6  and  B 12  or  folate  can  increase  our  risk  of  elevated  homocysteine  and, 
along  with  it,  our  risk  of  cardiovascular  disease.  By  providing  us  with  these  critical  homocysteine-balancing  B vitamins, 
crimini  mushrooms  provide  us  with  yet  another  tool  for  improving  our  cardiovascular  health. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

A fascinating  twist  in  the  story  of  crimini  mushrooms,  immune  support,  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits  involves  cancer  cells. 

In  some  ways,  cancer  cells  can  be  considered  the  opposite  of  healthy  cells.  With  healthy  cells,  we  want  to  avoid  chronic 
inflammation,  and  we  want  our  immune  system  to  maintain  a sense  of  respect  for  the  miraculous  functioning  of  each  healthy 
cell.  With  cancer  cells,  the  situation  is  somewhat  reversed.  In  the  case  of  cancer  cells,  we  would  like  our  immune  system  to  be 
unusually  active  and  to  send  out  white  blood  cells  that  can  dismantle  and  deactivate  cancerous  or  cancer-like  cells. 

In  some  situations,  it  can  also  be  helpful  for  inflammatory  activity  to  be  increased  in  cancer  cells.  Increased  activity  of  pro- 
inflammatory  molecules  (for  example,  prostaglandin  E2,  also  called  PGE2)  can  sometimes  cause  a cancer  cell  to  shift  itself 
over  into  a process  called  apoptosis  (programmed  cell  death).  In  this  case,  the  cancer  cell  can  be  prevented  from  causing  more 
disruption  among  healthy  cells. 

The  immune  system's  ability  to  actively  detect  and  deactivate  cancer  cells  (or  potentially  cancerous  cells)  and  the  inflammatory 
system's  ability  to  help  trigger  apoptosis  in  cancer  cells  (or  potentially  cancerous  cells)  are  abilities  that  can  be  enhanced  by 
intake  of  crimini  mushrooms.  We've  seen  recent  studies  on  laboratory  animals  as  well  as  lab  studies  on  different  cancer  cell 
lines  that  show  significant  anti-cancer  benefits  from  crimini  mushroom  extracts  and  also  from  dried,  powdered  crimini 
mushrooms.  (Extracts  and  dried  powder  forms  are  used  to  enable  measured  consumption  by  the  laboratory  animals.) 


Of  special  interest  in  this  health  benefits  area  have  been  studies  on  breast  cancer  and  prostate  cancer.  In  the  case  of  breast 
cancer — especially  hormone-related  breast  cancer — it  may  be  the  presence  of  a special  fatty  acid  called  CLA  (conjugated 
linoleic  acid)  in  mushrooms  that  is  especially  important.  CLA  may  be  able  to  bind  onto  aromatase  enzymes  in  the  cancer  cells 
and  lessen  their  ability  to  produce  estrogen.  Since  some  breast  cancer  tumors  are  dependent  upon  estrogen  for  their  growth, 
this  blocking  of  the  aromatase  enzyme  by  the  mushrooms'  CLA  may  help  prevent  or  control  this  type  of  tumor.  In  the  case  of 
prostate  cancer,  blocking  of  the  aromatase  enzyme  by  CLA  has  also  been  a research  focus  since  prostate  cancer  cells  are 
known  to  produce  aromatase  enzymes.  Blocking  of  a second  type  of  enzyme  (called  5-alpha  reductase ) by  mushroom  extracts 
has  also  been  a focus  of  prostate  cancer  studies.  It's  important  to  remember  that  most  types  of  cancer  begin  their  development 
in  situations  where  there  has  been  chronic  unwanted  inflammation  related  to  lack  of  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  and  also  in 
situations  where  there  has  been  chronic  unwanted  oxidative  stress  due  to  lack  of  antioxidant  nutrients.  By  providing  us  with 
their  unique  mix  of  anti-inflammatory  and  antioxidant  nutrients,  crimini  mushrooms  may  be  able  to  help  us  decrease  our 
cancer  risk  not  only  for  breast  and  prostate  cancer,  but  for  other  cancer  types  as  well. 

Description 

Crimini  mushrooms  are  a coffee-colored  variety  of  the  world's  most  commonly  eaten  mushroom,  commonly  called  the 
"button"  mushroom.  The  names  "white  button,"  "crimini"  and  "portobello"  all  refer  to  this  same  scientific  category  of 
mushroom,  Agaricus  bisporus.  Different  strains  (also  called  "isolates")  of  Agaricus  bisporus  are  used  in  commercial 
mushroom  production  along  with  varied  growing  conditions  and  varied  time  periods  of  cultivation  to  produce  different 
varieties  this  of  widely  loved  food.  White  button  varieties  are  typically  obtained  from  select  strains  that  can  be  harvested  at  a 
relatively  immature  stage  of  growth.  Strains  used  to  produce  crimini  mushrooms  are  typically  harvested  at  an  intermediate 
growth  stage.  Baby  bella  mushroom,  mini  bella  mushroom,  baby  portobello  mushroon,  and  portobellini  mushroom  are  other 
names  for  crimini  mushrooms.  Crimini  mushrooms  are  also  sometimes  referred  to  simply  as  "brown  mushrooms."  Portobello 
mushrooms  are  crimini  mushrooms  that  have  been  allowed  to  grow  to  full  maturity. 

Mushrooms  are  as  mysteriously  unique  as  they  are  delicious.  While  often  thought  of  as  a vegetable  and  prepared  like  one, 
mushrooms  are  actually  fungi,  a special  type  of  living  organism  that  has  no  roots,  leaves,  flowers,  or  seeds.  Technically 
speaking,  mushrooms  are  not  vegetables.  In  fact,  technically  speaking,  mushrooms  are  not  even  plants!  Mushrooms  do  not 
require  either  soil  or  light  in  order  to  grow.  All  that's  required  is  decaying  organic  matter  of  some  kind,  including  the  kind 
found  in  decaying  wood,  decaying  leaves,  or  manure.  While  mushrooms  can  be  cultivated,  they  easily  grow  wild  in  many 
regions  of  the  world  due  to  their  unusual  and  fairly  simple  growth  requirements. 

The  unique  nature  of  mushrooms  as  a fungus  that  grows  on  decaying  matter  is  one  of  the  reasons  that  we  encourage  purchase 
of  certified  organic  mushrooms.  Growth  media  used  in  the  commercial  production  of  non-organic  crimini  mushrooms  can  be 
inconsistent  in  terms  of  quality,  and  we  believe  that  your  risk  of  contamination  with  pesticides,  heavy  metals,  and  other 
unwanted  substances  will  often  be  lowered  through  the  purchase  of  certified  organic  mushrooms.  (At  present,  there  are  no 
organic  certification  standards  created  exclusively  for  mushroom  production.  But  at  the  same  time,  many  organic  standards 
created  for  production  of  all  foods  apply  to  the  growing  of  organic  mushrooms  as  well.  For  example,  regulations  for  the 
composting  of  manure  in  production  of  certified  organic  mushrooms  are  stricter  than  the  regulations  for  the  composting  of 
manure  in  production  of  non-organic  mushrooms.) 

History 

Button  mushrooms  have  grown  wild  since  prehistoric  times,  having  been  consumed  as  food  by  the  early  hunter-gatherers. 

Since  ancient  times,  mushrooms  have  been  thought  to  have  special  powers.  The  Egyptians  thought  that  they  granted 
immortality,  and  since  only  the  pharaohs  were  felt  to  be  worthy  of  this  gift,  the  common  people  were  not  even  allowed  to  touch 
mushrooms,  let  alone  eat  them.  In  ancient  Rome,  people  oftentimes  referred  to  mushrooms  as  cibus  diorum — food  for  the 
gods.  The  folklore  of  many  cultures,  including  Russia,  China,  and  Mexico  held  that  eating  mushrooms  could  give  someone 
superhuman  strength. 

Historians  are  not  entirely  certain  about  the  time  period  in  which  humans  first  began  cultivation  of  mushrooms  for  food,  but 
this  cultivation  most  likely  began  in  Asia,  involving  cultivation  in  China,  Japan,  and  India.  The  first  Western  cultivation  dates 
back  to  the  17th  century  in  Europe.  Especially  well-known  is  mushroom  cultivation  that  began  in  France,  specifically  in  the 
catacombs  (underground  caves  and  tunnels)  that  lay  beneath  the  city  of  Paris.  The  button  mushrooms  are  sometimes  referred  to 
as  Paris  mushrooms  ("champignons  de  Paris")  for  this  reason.  Mushrooms  are  still  commercially  produced  underground  in  the 
Tours  and  Saumur  regions  of  France.  China  is  currently  the  world's  largest  commercial  producer  of  mushrooms,  following  by 
Europe  and  then  the  United  States.  Within  the  U.S.,  about  70%  of  all  mushrooms  are  grown  on  the  east  coast,  with  the  state  of 
Pennsylvania  having  the  highest  U.S.  yields. 


How  to  Select  and  Store 


Look  for  crimini  mushrooms  that  are  firm,  plump,  clean  and  brown  in  color.  Those  that  are  wrinkled  or  have  wet  slimy  spots 
should  be  avoided.  If  your  recipe  calls  for  caps  only,  choose  mushrooms  that  have  short  stems  to  avoid  waste.  Fresh  and  dried 
button  mushrooms  are  available  throughout  the  year. 

When  selecting  mushrooms,  we  encourage  you  to  choose  certified  organic  versions.  Even  though  we  encourage  the  purchase 
of  organic  for  all  foods,  we  believe  that  it's  important  to  understand  some  of  the  potential  differences  between  mushrooms  that 
have  been  produced  organically  versus  non-organically.  Unlike  wild  mushrooms,  commercially  produced  mushrooms  are  the 
result  of  a complicated  cultivation  process  that  involves  three  distinct  steps. 

The  first  step  involves  composting.  The  goal  of  this  first  step  is  to  create  an  environment  (substrate)  in  which  the  mushrooms 
can  grow.  The  preparation  of  compost  often  includes  the  use  of  animal  manure,  and  we  believe  that  rules  for  the  organic 
composting  of  animal  manure  are  both  stricter  than  the  rules  for  non-organic  compositing  and  can  result  in  healthier  compost. 

The  second  step  involves  spawning.  Because  the  spores  (reproductive  elements)  of  mushrooms  are  too  small  for  growers  to 
handle  directly,  they  are  germinated  to  form  threadlike  substances  called  mycelia,  and  then  combined  with  grains  to  form  what 
is  called  "spawn."  Organic  regulations  for  seed  stock  and  seed  preparation  apply  to  preparation  of  spawn  in  mushroom 
production,  and,  once  again,  we  believe  that  the  stricter  organic  regulations  can  result  in  healthier  spawn.  Once  the  spawn  have 
been  prepared,  they  are  added  to  the  compost  and  allowed  to  develop  into  mushroom  colonies.  During  this  spawn  colonization 
step,  the  mushrooms  remain  in  their  vegetative  state  of  development.  They  have  yet  to  look  anything  like  the  mushrooms  we 
purchase  in  the  grocery  store. 

A final  step  in  the  mushroom  production  process  is  to  trigger  a change  in  their  development  from  the  vegetative  phase  to  the 
reproductive  (fruiting)  phase — allowing  the  mushrooms  to  transform  into  their  familiar  food  form.  In  order  to  trigger  this 
change,  an  additional  later  of  material  is  added  to  the  spawned  compost.  This  layer  of  material — called  the  casing — may 
include  field  soil,  leftover  mushroom  substrate  (called  spent  mushroom  substrate)  or  other  substances  including  sphagnum  peat 
moss.  Once  again,  we  believe  that  the  stricter  organic  regulations  for  soil  and  soil  amendments  can  help  to  produce  a healthier 
final  product.  Examples  of  unwanted  contaminants  that  may  be  greatly  reduced  or  eliminated  by  stricter  organic  standards 
include  synthetic  herbicides,  insecticides,  and  heavy  metals. 

The  best  way  to  store  loose  button  mushrooms  is  to  keep  them  in  the  refrigerator  in  a loosely  closed  paper  bag  wrapped  in  a 
damp  cloth  or  laid  out  in  a glass  dish  that  is  covered  with  a moist  cloth.  Whether  you  use  a paper  bag,  a damp  cloth,  or  a glass 
dish,  it's  worth  avoiding  all  storage  methods  that  leave  the  mushrooms  stacked  in  one  big  clump.  The  less  surface  contact  they 
have  with  one  another  the  fresher  they  will  stay.  A great  step  to  avoid  clumping  is  to  make  a first  layer  of  mushrooms  inside 
your  paper  bag  or  on  top  of  your  damp  cloth  or  glass  dish,  and  then  cover  this  mushroom  layer  with  a paper  towel.  A second 
layer  of  mushrooms  can  then  be  placed  on  top  of  the  paper  towel.  These  storage  methods  will  help  preserve  the  mushrooms' 
moisture  without  causing  them  to  become  soggy  and  keep  them  fresh  for  several  days.  Once  mushrooms  have  developed  a 
slimy  layer  across  their  surface,  they  are  not  longer  fully  fresh. 

Mushrooms  that  are  purchased  prepackaged  can  usually  be  stored  in  the  refrigerator  for  3-7  days.  However,  to  maximize 
freshness,  we  recommend  removal  from  the  original  container  and  storage  according  to  one  of  the  methods  described  above. 
Recent  research  has  shown  refrigerator  storage  to  be  especially  important  for  preserving  mushroom  phytonutrients.  In  research 
studies  on  button  mushrooms,  loss  of  phytonutrients  related  to  discoloration  and  hardening  of  mushrooms  has  been  shown  to 
occur  over  a 6-8  day  period  as  storage  temperatures  get  increased  from  38F/3C  (a  common  household  refrigerator  temperature) 
to  59F/15C  (a  temperature  much  closer  to  room  temperature).  These  study  findings  are  good  reasons  not  to  leave  mushrooms 
sitting  out  on  the  countertop  or  even  storing  them  temporarily  in  a cabinet. 

Dried  mushrooms  should  be  stored  in  a tightly  sealed  container  in  either  the  refrigerator  or  freezer,  where  they  will  stay  fresh 
for  six  months  to  one  year. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Healthy  sauteed  mushrooms  and  onions  make  a great  side  dish 

• Add  finely  chopped  mushrooms  to  a pot  of  tomato  pasta  sauce. 

• After  removing  the  stems  from  mushrooms,  stuff  them  with  your  favorite  vegetable  medley  or  soft  cheese. 

• Make  the  classic  brunch  favorite... the  mushroom  omelet. 


WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Crimini  Mushrooms 


• Mushroom.  Tomato,  Basil  Frittata 

• Poached  Eggs  over  Spinach  & Mushrooms 

• Crispy  Turkey  Salad 

• Healthy  Chicken  Caesar  Salad 

• Healthy  Turkey  Salad 

• Healthy  Veggie  Salad 

• Mediterranean-Style  Salad 

• Bariev  Mushroom  Soup 

• Minestrone  Surprise 

• Broiled  Rosemary  Chicken  over  Pureed  Lentils 

• Holiday  Turkey  with  Rice  Stuffing  & Gravy  with  Fresh  Herbs 

• Braised  Kidney  Beans  & Sweet  Potato 

• 7-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Crimini  Mushrooms 

• Asian  Mushroom  Saute 

• Baked  Potato  with  Rosemary,  Mushroom  Sauce 

• Sauteed  Mushrooms  with  Green  Peas 

• Wild  Rice  Pilaf 


Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Mushrooms,  Crimini,  raw 

1.00  cup  Calories:  16 

72.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

coDDer 

0.36  mg 

40 

45.5 

excellent 

selenium 

18.72  meg 

34 

38.7 

excellent 

vitamin  B2 

0.35  mg 

27 

30.6 

excellent 

nantothenic  acid 

1.08  mg 

22 

24.5 

excellent 

vitamin  B3 

2.74  mg 

17 

19.5 

excellent 

nhosphorus 

86.40  mg 

12 

14.0 

excellent 

DOtassium 

322.56  mg 

9 

10.5 

very  good 

zinc 

0.79  mg 

7 

8.2 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.07  mg 

6 

6.6 

very  good 

manaanese 

0.10  mg 

5 

5.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.08  mg 

5 

5.3 

good 

folate 

18.00  meg 

5 

5.1 

good 

choline 

15.91  mg 

4 

4.3 

good 

protein 

1.80  g 

4 

4.1 

good 

vitamin  B12 

0.07  meg 

3 

3.3 

good 

World's  Healthiest 

Foods  Rating  Rule 

excellent 


DRI/D V >=7 5 % OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 


very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Adams  LS,  Phung  S,  Wu  X et  al.  White  button  mushroom  (Agaricus  bisporus)  exhibits  antiproliferative  and  proapoptotic 
properties  and  inhibits  prostate  tumor  growth  in  athymic  mice.  Nutr  Cancer.  2008;60(6):744-56.  2008. 

• Borchers  AT,  Krishnaumurthy  A,  Keen  CL  et  al.  The  Immunobiology  of  Mushrooms.  Exp  Biol  Med,  Mar  2008;  233: 

259  - 276.  2008. 

• Chandra  L,  Alexander  H,  Traore  D et  al.  White  button  and  shiitake  mushrooms  reduce  the  incidence  and  severity  of 
collagen-induced  arthritis  in  dilute  brown  non-agouti  mice.  J Nutr.  2011  Jan;  14 1 (1):  131-6.  Epub  2010  Nov  24.  2011. 

• Chen  S,  Oh  SR,  Phung  S et  al.  Anti-Aromatase  Activity  of  Phytochemicals  in  White  Button  Mushrooms  (Agaricus 
bisporus).  Cancer  Res.,  Dec  2006;  66:  12026  - 12034.  2006. 

• Falandysz  J.  Selenium  in  edible  mushrooms.  J Environ  Sci  Health  C Environ  Carcinog  Ecotoxicol  Rev.  2008  Jul- 
Sep;26(3):256-99.  2008. 

• Garcia  MA,  Alonso  J and  Melgar  MJ.  Lead  in  edible  mushrooms:  levels  and  bioaccumulation  factors.  J Hazard  Mater. 
2009  Aug  15;167(l-3):777-83.  Epub  2009  Jan  23.  2009. 

• Giannenas  I,  Pappas  IS,  Mavridis  S et  al.  Performance  and  antioxidant  status  of  broiler  chickens  supplemented  with 
dried  mushrooms  (Agaricus  bisporus)  in  their  diet.  Poult  Sci.  2010  Feb;89(2):303-ll.  2010. 

• Gohil  VM,  Agrawal  SK,  Saxena  AK  et  al.  Synthesis,  biological  evaluation  and  molecular  docking  of  aryl  hydrazines  and 
hydrazides  for  anticancer  activity.  Indian  J Exp  Biol.  2010  Mar;48(3):265-8.  2010. 

• Grube  BJ,  Eng  ET,  Kao  YC  et  al.  White  Button  Mushroom  Phytochemicals  Inhibit  Aromatase  Activity  and  Breast 
Cancer  Cell  Proliferation.  J.  Nutr.,  Dec  2001;  131:  3288  - 3293.  2001. 

• Jeong  SC,  Jeong  YT,  Yang  BK  et  al.  White  button  mushroom  (Agaricus  bisporus)  lowers  blood  glucose  and  cholesterol 
levels  in  diabetic  and  hypercholesterolemic  rats.  Nutr  Res.  2010  Jan;30(l):49-56.  2010. 

• Kim  MY,  Seguin  P,  Ahn  JK  et  al.  Phenolic  compound  concentration  and  antioxidant  activities  of  edible  and  medicinal 
mushrooms  from  Korea.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2008  Aug  27;56(16):7265-70.  Epub  2008  Jul  11.  2008. 

• Kohno  K,  Miyake  M,  Sano  O et  al.  Anti-inflammatory  and  immunomodulatory  properties  of  2-amino-3H-phenoxazin-3- 
one.  Biol  Pharm  Bull.  2008  Oct;31(10):1938-45.  2008. 

• Komura  DL,  Carbonero  ER,  Gracher  AH  et  al.  Structure  of  Agaricus  spp.  fucogalactans  and  their  anti-inflammatory  and 
antinociceptive  properties.  Bioresour  Technol.  2010  Aug;101(15):6192-9.  Epub  2010  Apr  2.  2010. 

• Koyyalamudi  SR,  Jeong  SC,  Cho  KY  et  al.  Vitamin  B12  is  the  active  corrinoid  produced  in  cultivated  white  button 
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• Martin  KR  and  Brophy  SK.  Commonly  consumed  and  specialty  dietary  mushrooms  reduce  cellular  proliferation  in 
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• Melgar  MJ,  Alonso  J and  Garcia  MA.  Mercury  in  edible  mushrooms  and  underlying  soil:  bioconcentration  factors  and 
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• Roberts  JS,  Teichert  A and  McHugh  TH.  Vitamin  D2  formation  from  post-harvest  UV-B  treatment  of  mushrooms 
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Mushrooms,  shiitake 


Long  a symbol  of  longevity  in  Asia  because  of  their  health-promoting  properties,  shiitake  mushrooms  have  been  used 
medicinally  by  the  Chinese  for  more  than  6,000  years.  More  recently,  their  rich,  smoky  flavor  has  endeared  them  to  American 
taste  buds.  These  exotic  hearty  mushrooms  can  now  be  found  in  supermarket  shelves  across  the  U.S.  throughout  the  year. 

Like  other  mushrooms,  these  specialty  mushrooms  are  as  mysteriously  unique  as  they  are  delicious.  While  often  thought  of  as 
a vegetable  and  prepared  like  one,  mushrooms  are  actually  a fungus,  a special  type  of  living  organism  that  has  no  roots,  leaves, 
flowers  or  seeds. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Shiitake  Mushrooms 

• Although  immune  system  support  has  often  received  much  of  the  spotlight  in  shiitake  mushroom  research,  recent  study 
results  involving  support  of  the  cardiovascular  system  have  caught  the  attention  of  many  researchers.  In  particular,  recent 
studies  have  shown  the  ability  of  shiitake  mushrooms  to  help  protect  us  against  cardiovascular  diseases  (including 
atherosclerosis)  by  preventing  too  much  immune  cell  binding  to  the  lining  of  our  blood  vessels.  In  order  for  immune 
cells  and  other  materials  to  bind  onto  our  blood  vessel  linings,  certain  protein  molecules — called  adhesion  molecules — 
must  be  produced  and  sent  into  action.  By  helping  to  block  the  adhesion  molecule  production  process,  substances  in 
shiitake  mushrooms  can  help  protect  our  blood  vessels.  (The  adhesion  molecule  production  that  is  partially  blocked  by 
shiitake  mushroom  components  includes  the  adhesion  molecules  ICAM-1,  VCAM-1,  and  E-selectin.) 

• Shiitake  mushrooms  have  long  been  recognized  as  a very  good,  non-animal  food  source  of  iron.  But  a recent  preliminary 
study  has  determined  that  the  bioavailability  of  iron  from  shiitake  mushrooms  may  be  even  better  than  we  thought. 
Although  conducted  on  laboratory  animals  (female  rats)  rather  than  humans,  this  study  found  the  iron  in  dried  shiitake 
mushroom  to  be  equally  as  bioavailable  as  supplemental  iron  in  the  form  of  ferrous  gluconate.  (Ferrous  gluconate  is  a 
very  commonly  used  low-dose  iron  supplement.)  While  we  don't  usually  spotlight  research  on  laboratory  animals,  we 
found  this  result  to  be  especially  promising  for  individuals  who  consume  little  or  no  animal  products  and  are  often 
looking  for  foods  that  can  supply  valuable  amounts  of  bioavailable  iron. 

• Shiitake  mushrooms  can  be  one  of  the  most  sustainable  foods  in  your  diet!  While  the  majority  of  shiitake  mushrooms 
produced  worldwide  have  been  grown  on  sawdust  block  in  a non-natural  setting,  it  is  fully  possible  for  shiitake 
mushrooms  to  be  produced  on  natural  hardwood  logs  in  a forest  setting.  This  approach  to  shiitake  mushroom  production 
is  called  "forest  farming"  and  it  has  become  an  especially  popular  way  of  growing  shiitake  mushrooms  in  the  U.S,  where 
there  are  now  more  than  200  shiitake  mushroom  growers.  Unfortunately,  forest  farming  is  not  a requirement  for  organic 
certification  of  shiitake  mushrooms.  However,  all  of  the  plant  crop  standards  in  the  National  Organics  Program 
regulations  apply  to  shiitake  mushroom  production,  and  so  the  combination  of  these  two  features — certified  organic 
shiitake  mushrooms  that  have  also  been  forest  farmed — can  make  a great  food  choice  in  terms  of  sustainable  agriculture. 
Just  look  for  the  USDA's  organic  logo  on  your  shiitake  mushrooms  to  determine  if  they  are  certified  organic.  Then  check 
for  information  about  forest  farming  on  the  packaging.  If  no  information  is  provided,  there  is  a good  chance  that  your 
shiitake  mushrooms  were  not  forest  farmed.  For  this  reason,  we  encourage  you  to  ask  your  store  staff  or  contact  the 
product  manufacturer  to  determine  if  your  shiitake  mushrooms  were  grown  on  hardwood  logs  in  a natural  forest 
environment. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

People  do  not  usually  consider  including  mushrooms  as  part  of  their  meals  for  their  nutritional  content.  However,  shiitake 
mushrooms  are  rich  in  B vitamins — they  are  an  excellent  of  pantothenic  acid,  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  B2,  and  a good 
source  of  vitamin  B6,  niacin,  choline,  and  folate.  Additionally,  they  are  concentrated  in  minerals,  being  an  excellent  source  of 
selenium  and  copper,  a very  good  source  of  zinc,  and  a good  source  of  manganese.  They  are  also  a good  source  of  vitamin  D 
(in  the  D2  form)  and  dietary  fiber.  They  also  provide  a wide  variety  of  unique  phytonutrients.  To  maximize  their  flavor  and  the 
retention  of  their  nutrients  it  is  important  to  not  to  overcook  them.  That's  why  we  recommend  Healthy  Sauteeing  shiitake 
mushrooms  for  just  7 minutes  to  bring  out  their  best  flavor  while  maximizing  their  nutrient  retention.  For  more  on  our 
Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  shiitake  mushrooms  see  the  How  to  Enjoy  section  below. 


Mushrooms,  Shiitake,  cooked 

0.50  cup 

Calories:  41 

(72.50  grams) 

GI:  not  available 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

coDDer  72% 

Health  Benefits 

Shiitake,  maitake,  and  reishi  mushrooms  are  widely  referred  to  as  "medicinal  mushrooms"  due  to  their  long  history  of  medical 
use,  particularly  in  oriental  medicine  traditions.  It's  important  to  distinguish,  however,  between  extracts  and  medicinal 
preparations  made  from  these  mushrooms  and  their  appearance  as  whole  foods  in  an  everyday  diet.  Most  of  the  medicinal 
research  on  shiitake  mushrooms  has  been  conducted  on  laboratory  animals  or  on  individual  cells  studied  in  a laboratory 
setting.  There  are  hundreds  of  lab  and  animal  studies  that  clearly  document  the  medicinal  properties  of  shiitake  mushroom 
extracts.  As  important  as  these  studies  are  in  a medical  context,  they  are  still  very  different  from  studies  that  examine  shiitake 
mushroom  as  a common  and  beloved  food. 

In  contrast  to  the  wealth  of  medicinal  research  on  shiitake  mushrooms,  there  are  very  few  studies  on  shiitake  mushrooms  in  the 
human  diet.  Among  the  human  dietary  studies  that  do  exist,  however,  there  is  a clear  message  about  shiitake  mushrooms:  they 
can  provide  us  with  some  fantastic  health  benefits.  Below  are  areas  of  health  support  that  make  the  top  of  our  list  for  shiitake 
mushrooms  when  enjoyed  as  a whole  food. 

Immune  Support 

No  health  benefit  is  better  documented  for  shiitake  mushroom  than  immune  support.  In  fact,  the  immune  support  track  record 
for  this  mushroom  is  fascinating.  On  the  one  hand,  numerous  studies  have  shown  the  ability  of  whole  shiitake  mushrooms  to 
help  prevent  excessive  immune  system  activity.  On  the  other  hand,  an  equal  number  of  studies  have  shown  the  ability  of 
shiitake  mushrooms  to  help  stimulate  immune  system  responses  under  certain  circumstances.  In  other  words,  from  a dietary 
perspective,  shiitake  mushrooms  appear  able  to  enhance  immune  function  in  both  directions,  giving  it  a boost  when  needed, 
and  cutting  back  on  its  activity  when  needed.  It's  important  to  note  that  dietary  shiitake  mushroom  intake — unlike  intake  of 
medicinal  shiitake  extracts — has  not  been  shown  to  be  strongly  suppressive  of  the  immune  system  or  strongly  activating.  From 
our  perspective,  this  finding  makes  sense.  We  wouldn't  want  our  everyday  foods  to  strongly  suppress  or  strongly  activate  any 
body  system.  What  we  would  want  from  our  foods  is  support  of  body  systems  under  a variety  of  circumstances — and  that  is 
exactly  what  we  get  from  shiitake  mushrooms  with  respect  to  our  immune  system. 

One  especially  interesting  area  of  immune  system  support  involves  the  impact  of  shiitake  mushrooms  on  immune  cells  called 
macrophages.  Among  their  many  important  activities,  macrophage  cells  are  responsible  for  identifying  and  clearing  potentially 
cancerous  cells  from  the  body.  In  order  to  carry  out  this  task,  they  need  to  be  "activated"  in  a particular  way.  (In  more  scientific 
terms,  their  activated  phenotype  needs  to  reflect  a higher  level  of  interleukin  1-beta  and  tumor  necrosis  factor  alpha,  and  a 
lower  level  of  interleukin  10.)  Shiitake  mushrooms  are  able  to  help  macrophage  cells  achieve  this  activated  profile  so  that  they 
can  do  a better  job  clearing  potentially  cancerous  cells.  Researchers  refer  to  this  result  as  an  "anti-cancer  immunity"  that  is 
enhanced  by  shiitake  mushroom  intake. 

The  most  famous  immune-supportive  components  in  shiitake  mushrooms  are  its  polysaccharides.  (Polysaccharides  are  large- 
sized carbohydrate  molecules  composed  of  many  different  sugars  arranged  in  chains  and  branches.)  Although  many  fungi  are 
well-known  for  their  polysaccharides,  no  single  fungus  has  been  more  carefully  studied  than  the  shiitake  mushroom.  We  know 
that  this  fungus  is  unique  in  its  variety  of  polysaccharides,  and  especially  its  polysaccharide  glucans.  (Glucans  are 
polysaccharides  in  which  all  of  the  sugar  components  involve  the  simple  sugar  glucose.)  Among  the  glucans  contained  in 
shiitake  mushroom  are  alpha- 1,6  glucan,  alpha- 1,4  glucan,  beta- 1,3  glucan,  beta- 1,6  glucan,  1,4-D-glucans,  1,6-D-glucans, 
glucan  phosphate,  laminarin,  and  lentinan.  Shiitake  mushrooms  also  contain  some  important  non-glucan  polysaccharides, 
including  fucoidans  and  galactomannins.  The  immune-related  effects  of  polysaccharides  in  shiitake  mushrooms  have  been 
studied  on  laboratory  animals  under  a wide  variety  of  circumstances,  including  exercise  stress,  exposure  to  inflammation- 
producing  toxins,  radiation  exposure,  and  immunodeficiency.  Under  all  of  these  circumstances,  the  polysaccharides  in  shiitake 
mushrooms  have  been  shown  to  lessen  problems.  There  is  also  some  evidence  that  shiitake  mushrooms'  polysaccharides  can 
help  lower  total  cholesterol  levels. 


Cardiovascular  Benefits 


The  cardiovascular  benefits  of  shiitake  mushrooms  have  been  documented  in  three  basic  areas  of  research.  The  first  of  these 
areas  is  cholesterol  reduction.  d-Eritadenine  (also  called  lentinacin,  or  lentsine,  and  sometimes  abbreviated  as  DEA)  is  one  of 
the  most  unusual  naturally  occurring  nutrients  in  shiitake  mushrooms  that  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  help  lower  total  blood 
cholesterol.  This  nutrient  is  actually  derived  from  adenine — one  of  the  building  blocks  (nucleotides)  in  the  mushroom's  genetic 
material  (DNA).  The  beta-glucans  in  shiitake  mushrooms  are  also  very  likely  to  contribute  to  its  cholesterol-lowering  impact. 

Another  basic  area  of  cardiovascular  support  involves  the  interaction  between  our  cardiovascular  system  and  our  immune 
system.  Recent  studies  have  shown  that  shiitake  mushrooms  can  help  protect  us  against  cardiovascular  diseases  (including 
atherosclerosis)  by  preventing  too  much  immune  cell  binding  to  the  lining  of  our  blood  vessels.  In  order  for  immune  cells  and 
other  materials  to  bind  onto  our  blood  vessel  linings,  certain  protein  molecules — called  adhesion  molecules — must  be 
produced  and  sent  into  action.  By  helping  to  block  the  adhesion  molecule  production  process,  substances  in  shiitake 
mushrooms  can  help  protect  our  blood  vessels.  (The  adhesion  molecule  production  which  is  partially  blocked  by  shiitake 
mushroom  components  includes  the  adhesion  molecules  ICAM-1,  VCAM-1,  and  E-selectin.) 

A final  basic  area  of  cardiovascular  benefits  involves  antioxidant  support.  Chronic  oxidative  stress  in  our  cardiovascular 
system  (ongoing,  oxygen-based  damage  to  our  blood  vessel  linings)  is  a critical  factor  in  the  development  of  clogged  arteries 
(atherosclerosis)  and  other  blood  vessel  problems.  One  of  the  best  ways  for  us  to  reduce  our  risk  of  chronic  oxidative  stress  is 
consumption  of  a diet  rich  in  antioxidant  nutrients.  Shiitake  mushrooms  are  a very  good  source  of  three  key  antioxidant 
minerals:  manganese,  selenium,  and  zinc.  They  also  contain  some  unusual  phytonutrient  antioxidants.  One  of  the  best  studied 
is  ergothioneine  (ET).  This  unique  antioxidant  is  derived  from  the  amino  acid  histidine,  although  it's  unusual  since  it  contains  a 
sulfur  group  of  molecules  that  are  not  present  in  histidine  itself.  In  studies  on  ET  and  our  cells'  oxidative  stress  levels,  one 
fascinating  finding  has  been  the  special  benefits  of  ET  for  cell  components  called  mitochondria.  Mitochondria  use  oxygen  to 
produce  energy  for  the  cell.  Heart  cells  have  greater  concentrations  of  mitochondria  than  most  any  other  cell  type  in  the  body. 
For  this  reason,  researchers  believe  that  ET  may  be  one  of  the  key  nutrients  from  shiitake  mushrooms  that  provide  us  with 
cardiovascular  support. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

Most  of  the  research  on  shiitake  mushrooms  and  cancer  has  been  conducted  on  laboratory  animals  or  on  individual  cells  in  a 
laboratory  setting  and  has  involved  mushroom  extracts  rather  than  whole  mushrooms  in  food  form.  For  this  reason,  our 
understanding  of  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  shiitake  mushrooms  as  a whole,  natural  food  is  still  preliminary.  But  based  on 
research  to  date,  we  believe  that  adding  shiitake  mushrooms  to  your  diet  is  likely  to  offer  you  anti-cancer  benefits,  especially 
with  respect  to  prevention  of  prostate  cancer,  breast  cancer,  and  colon  cancer. 

Medicinal  extracts  from  shiitake  mushrooms  have  been  studied  much  more  extensively  than  the  whole  food  itself.  In  cell  and 
laboratory  animal  experiments,  numerous  components  of  shiitake  mushrooms  have  been  show  to  help  block  tumor  growth, 
sometimes  by  triggering  programmed  cell  death  (apoptosis)  in  the  cancer  cells.  These  components  have  been  collectively 
referred  to  as  "anti-tumor  mycochemicals"  provided  by  shiitake  mushrooms.  Researchers  have  speculated  that  more  than  100 
different  types  of  compounds  in  shiitake  mushrooms  may  work  together  to  accomplish  these  anti-tumor  results.  While  the 
unique  polysaccharides  in  shiitake  mushrooms  were  first  thought  to  be  its  primary  anti-cancer  compounds,  scientists  are  now 
convinced  that  shiitake  provides  many  non-polysaccharide  substances  that  have  anti-tumor  effects. 

Other  Benefits 

The  special  combination  of  antioxidants  found  in  shiitake  mushrooms  together  with  their  highly  flexible  support  for  immune 
system  function  make  them  a natural  candidate  for  providing  us  with  protection  from  a variety  of  problems  involving  oxidative 
stress  and  immune  function.  This  includes  rheumatoid  arthritis  (RA),  an  area  that  has  begun  to  interest  shiitake  mushroom 
researchers.  Although  research  in  this  area  is  preliminary,  we  expect  to  see  large-scale  human  studies  confirming  the  benefits 
of  shiitake  mushrooms  for  prevention  of  RA. 

Medicinal  extracts  from  shiitake  mushrooms  have  well-documented  effects  on  a variety  of  micro-organisms,  including 
bacteria,  fungi,  and  viruses  (including  human  immunodeficiency  virus-1,  or  HIV-1).  While  we  have  yet  to  see  large-scale 
human  studies  on  whole  food  intake  of  shiitake  mushrooms  and  decreased  susceptibility  to  colds,  flu  or  other  problems  related 
to  unwanted  activity  of  micro-organisms,  this  is  a very  likely  area  for  future  food  research  and  discovery  of  health  benefits. 


Description 


Shiitake  mushrooms  have  brown,  slightly  convex  caps  that  range  in  diameter  from  about  two  to  four  inches  in  diameter.  They 
belong  to  the  basidiomycete  family  of  fungi.  Until  the  early  1990's,  they  were  widely  known  by  their  scientific  genus-species 
name  of  Lentinus  edodes.  However,  during  the  late  1980's  and  early  1990's  this  genus-species  name  for  shiitake  mushrooms 
was  largely  phased  out  and  replaced  by  a new  genus-species  name,  Lentinula  edodes. 

The  common  name  for  this  mushroom,  "shiitake,"  comes  from  the  Japanese  language.  "Shii"  in  Japanese  refers  to  wood 
belonging  to  the  Pasania  species  of  tree  on  which  shiitake  mushrooms  naturally  grow.  "Take"  simply  translates  as  "mushroom." 
You  may  sometimes  also  hear  shiitake  mushroom  being  referred  to  as  the  "Black  Forest  mushroom,"  and  they  do  indeed  grow 
naturally  in  that  German  mountain  range. 

Other  mushrooms  with  Asian  roots  that  are  also  becoming  more  popular  are  reishi  ( Ganoderma  lucidum ) and  maitake  ( Grifola 
frondosa ).  Reishi  mushrooms  usually  have  an  antler  or  rounded,  fan  shape;  the  most  popular  type  of  reishi  is  red  in  color, 
although  that  is  just  one  of  the  six  colors  in  which  they  grow.  Maitake  mushrooms  grow  in  a formation  of  clustered  brownish 
fronds  of  fan-shaped  petals  and  are  commonly  known  as  "Hen  of  the  Woods."  These  types  of  mushrooms  are  available  in  food 
markets  specializing  in  Asian  foods. 

History 

Shiitake  (as  well  as  reishi  and  maitake)  mushrooms  have  grown  wild  since  prehistoric  times.  Their  therapeutic  value  has  been 
prized  in  Asian  countries,  where  they  originated,  for  thousands  of  years.  They  play  a critical  role  in  Asian  medicinal  traditions 
and  were  noted  in  some  of  the  first  books  on  herbal  medicine  written  thousands  of  years  ago.  In  the  past  few  decades,  these 
mushrooms  have  become  more  popular  in  the  United  States  as  a result  of  an  expanding  body  of  scientific  research  supporting 
their  numerous  health  benefits.  The  U.S.  is  currently  home  to  approximately  200  commercial  growers  of  shiitake  mushrooms, 
and  nearly  half  of  those  growers  use  forest  farming  to  produce  shiitake  mushrooms  in  a natural  forest  setting  using  downed 
hardwood  trees  as  the  cultivation  medium. 

Although  Japan  was  at  one  time  the  world's  largest  producer  of  shiitake  mushrooms,  that  distinction  now  goes  to  China,  which 
produces  over  80%  of  all  commercially  sold  shiitake  mushrooms.  Japan,  Korea  and  Taiwan  also  produce  shiitake  mushrooms, 
as  does  the  United  States.  One  quickly  growing  market  for  shiitake  mushrooms  is  Brazil,  which  currently  produces  more 
shiitake  mushrooms  than  any  other  South  American  country. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Shiitake  mushrooms  are  available  in  many  grocery  stores  throughout  the  country.  If  your  local  store  does  not  carry  fresh  reishi 
or  maitake  mushrooms,  investigate  the  Asian  food  stores  in  your  area  as  they  oftentimes  carry  these  specialty  mushrooms. 

Look  for  mushrooms  that  are  firm,  plump  and  clean.  Those  that  are  wrinkled  or  have  wet  slimy  spots  should  be  avoided. 

The  best  way  to  store  loose  shiitake  mushrooms  (as  well  as  maitake  or  reishi  mushrooms)  is  to  keep  them  in  the  refrigerator  in 
a loosely  closed  paper  bag.  They  will  keep  fresh  for  about  one  week.  Dried  mushrooms  should  be  stored  in  a tightly  sealed 
container  in  either  the  refrigerator  or  freezer  where  they  will  stay  fresh  for  six  months  to  one  year. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Shiitake  mushrooms  are  traditionally  added  to  miso  soup. 

• Healthy  saute  mushrooms  with  onions  and  garlic.  Serve  as  a side  dish  or  as  a topping  for  chicken,  beef,  lamb  or  venison. 

• To  give  your  vegetable  stock  an  extra  depth,  add  dried  shiitake  mushrooms. 

• For  a quick  and  easy  Asian  pasta  dish,  healthy  saute  shiitake  mushrooms  with  snap  peas  and  tofu.  Season  to  taste  and 
serve  over  buckwheat  soba  noodles  (or  your  favorite  type  of  pasta). 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Shiitake  Mushrooms 

• Poached  Eggs  Over  Collard  Greens  & Shiitake  Mushrooms 

• 5 Spice  Onion  Soup 

• Shiitake  Mushroom  Seaweed  Soup 

• 15-Minute  Steamed  Halibut  with  Bok  Chov 


• 15  Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Chicken  & Bok  Chov 

• 5-Spice  Chicken  in  a Bowl 

• Miso  Stir-Fry 

• Spicy  Healthy  Sauteed  Tofu 

• Spicv  Vegetable  Tart 

• Asian  Mushroom  Saute 

• Healthy  Sauteed  Shiitake  Mushrooms 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Mushrooms,  Shiitake,  cooked 

0.50  cup  Calories:  41 

72.50  grams  GI:  not  available 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

copper 

0.65  mg 

72 

32.0 

excellent 

pantothenic  acid 

2.61  mg 

52 

23.1 

excellent 

selenium 

17.98  meg 

33 

14.5 

excellent 

vitamin  B2 

0.12  mg 

9 

4.1 

very  good 

zinc 

0.96  mg 

9 

3.9 

very  good 

maneanese 

0.15  mg 

8 

3.3 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.12  mg 

7 

3.1 

good 

vitamin  B3 

1.09  mg 

7 

3.0 

good 

choline 

26.68  mg 

6 

2.8 

good 

fiber 

1-52  g 

6 

2.7 

good 

vitamin  D 

20.30  1U 

5 

2.2 

good 

folate 

15.22  meg 

4 

1.7 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Bisen  PS,  Baghel  RK,  Sanodiya  BS  et  al.  Lentinus  edodes:  a macrofungus  with  pharmacological  activities.  Curr  Med 
Chem.  2010;  17(22):24 19-30.  Review.  2010. 

• Brauer  D,  Kimmons  T,  and  Phillips  M.  Comparison  of  Two  Methods  for  the  Quantitation  of  B-Glucans  from  Shiitake 
Mushrooms.  Journal  of  Herbs,  Spices,  & Medicinal  Plants,  Volume  13,  Number  3 (January  2007),  pp.  15-26.  2007. 

• Bruhn  JN,  Mihail  JD,  and  Pickens  JB.  Forest  farming  of  shiitake  mushrooms:  an  integrated  evaluation  of  management 
practices.  Bioresour  Technol.  2009  Dec;100(24):6472-80.  Epub  2009  Jul  28.  2009. 


• Chan  GCF,  Chan  WK,  and  Sze  DMY.  The  effects  of  -glucan  on  human  immune  and  cancer  cells.  Journal  of  Hematology 
& Oncology  2009,  2:25  (10  June  2009).  2009. 

• Chandra  L,  Alexander  H,  Traore  D et  al.  White  button  and  shiitake  mushrooms  reduce  the  incidence  and  severity  of 
collagen-induced  arthritis  in  dilute  brown  non-agouti  mice.  J Nutr.  2011  Jan;  141(1):  13 1-6.  Epub  2010  Nov  24.  2011. 

• Christopher  L,  Traore  D,  and  Kuvibidla  S.  Consumption  of  diets  fortified  with  edible  mushrooms  alters  IL-6  secretion  in 
vivo  and  in  vitro  and  spleen  cell  proliferation  in  dextran  sodium  sulfate  (DSS)-treated  mice.  FASEB  J.  April  2010,  24; 
(Meeting  Abstract  Supplement)  lb390.  2010. 

• Driscoll  M,  Hansen  R,  Ding  C et  al.  Therapeutic  potential  of  various  beta-glucan  sources  in  conjunction  with  anti-tumor 
monoclonal  antibody  in  cancer  therapy.  Cancer  Biol  Ther.  2009  Feb;8(3):218-25.  Epub  2009  Feb  3.  2009. 

• Falandysz  J.  Selenium  in  edible  mushrooms.  J Environ  Sci  Health  C Environ  Carcinog  Ecotoxicol  Rev.  2008  Jul- 
Sep;26(3):256-99.  2008. 

• Fang  N,  Li  Q,  Yu  S et  al.  Inhibition  of  Growth  and  Induction  of  Apoptosis  in  Human  Cancer  Cell  Lines  by  an  Ethyl 
Acetate  Fraction  from  Shiitake  Mushrooms.  The  Journal  of  Alternative  & Complementary  Medicine,  Volume  12, 
Number  2 (March  2006),  pp.  125-132.  2006. 

• Gold  MA,  Cernusca  MM,  and  Godsey  LD.  A competitive  market  analysis  of  the  United  States  shiitake  mushroom 
marketplace.  Hort  Technology,  July  2008;  18:  489  - 499.  2008. 

• Hearst  R,  Nelson  D,  McCollum  G et  al.  An  examination  of  antibacterial  and  antifungal  properties  of  constituents  of 
Shiitake  (Lentinula  edodes)  and  oyster  (Pleurotus  ostreatus)  mushrooms.  Complement  Ther  Clin  Pract.  2009 
Feb;15(l):5-7.  Epub  2008  Dec  2.  2009. 

• Kojima  H,  Akaki  J,  Nakajima  S et  al.  Structural  analysis  of  glycogen-like  polysaccharides  having  macrophage-activating 
activity  in  extracts  of  Lentinula  edodes  mycelia.  J Nat  Med.  2010  Jan;64(l):  16-23.  Epub  2009  Aug  27.  2010. 

• Kuvibidila  S and  French  C.  White  button,  shiitake,  and  portabella  mushrooms  inhibit  the  secretion  of  vascular 
endothelial  growth  factor  (VEGF)  and  the  proliferation  of  the  androgen  dependent  LNCap  prostate  cancer  cell  line. 
FASEB  J,  Apr  2011;  25:  979.11.  2011. 

• Martin  KR  and  Brophy  SK.  Commonly  consumed  and  specialty  dietary  mushrooms  reduce  cellular  proliferation  in 
MCF-7  human  breast  cancer  cells.  Exp  Biol  Med  (Maywood).  2010  Nov  1 ;235(1 1):  1 306- 1 4.  Epub  2010  Oct  4.  2010. 

• Ramberg  JE,  Nelson  ED,  and  Sinnott  RA.  Immunomodulatory  dietary  polysaccharides:  a systematic  review  of  the 
literature.  Nutrition  Journal  2010,  9:54  (18  November  2010):  1-22.  2010. 

• Rao  JR,  Smyth  TJ,  Millar  BC  et  al.  Antimicrobial  properties  of  shiitake  mushrooms  (Lentinula  edodes).  Int  J Antimicrob 
Agents.  2009  Jun;33(6):591-2.  Epub  2008  Dec  31.  2009. 

• Regula  J,  Krejpcio  Z,  and  Staniek  H.  Bioavailability  of  iron  from  cereal  products  enriched  with  dried  shittake 
mushrooms  (Lentinula  edodes)  as  determined  by  iron  regeneration  efficacy  method  in  female  rats.  J Med  Food.  2010 
Oct;13(5):1189-94.  2010. 

• Rop  O,  Mlcek  J,  and  Jurikova  T.  Beta-glucans  in  higher  fungi  and  their  health  effects.  Nutr  Rev.  2009  Nov;67(ll):624- 
31.  Review.  2009. 

• Sasidharan  S,  Aravindran  S,  Latha  LY  et  al.  In  vitro  antioxidant  activity  and  hepatoprotective  effects  of  Lentinula  edodes 
against  paracetamol-induced  hepatotoxicity.  Molecules.  2010  Jun  23;15(6):4478-89.  2010. 

• Spierings  EL,  Fujii  H,  Sun  B et  al.  A Phase  I study  of  the  safety  of  the  nutritional  supplement,  active  hexose  correlated 
compound,  AHCC,  in  healthy  volunteers.  J Nutr  Sci  Vitaminol  (Tokyo).  2007  Dec;53(6):536-9.  2007. 

• Willcox  DC,  Willcox  BJ,  Todoriki  H et  al.  . The  Okinawan  Diet:  Health  Implications  of  a Low-Calorie,  Nutrient-Dense, 
Antioxidant-Rich  Dietary  Pattern  Low  in  Glycemic  Load.  J.  Am.  Coll.  Nutr.,  Aug  2009;  28:  500S  - 516S.  2009. 

• Xu  B and  Chang  K.  Total  phenolic,  phenolic  acid,  anthocyanin,  flavan-3-ol,  and  flavonol  profiles  and  antioxidant 
properties  of  pinto  and  black  beans  (Phaseolus  vulgaris  L.)  as  affected  by  thermal  processing.  Journal  of  Agricultural  and 
Food  Chemistry,  2009;  57:  4754-4764.  2009. 

• Yarnell  E and  Abascal  K.  Holistic  Approaches  to  Prostate  Cancer.  Alternative  & Complementary  Therapies,  Volume  14, 
Number  4 (August  2008),  pp.  164-180.  2008. 

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Mustard  greens 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Mustard  Greens 

• The  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  steamed  mustard  greens  is  second  only  to  steamed  collard  greens  and  steamed  kale  in 
a recent  study  of  cruciferous  vegetables  and  their  ability  to  bind  bile  acids  in  the  digestive  tract.  When  bile  acid  binding 
takes  place,  it  is  easier  for  the  bile  acids  to  be  excreted  from  the  body  Since  bile  acids  are  made  from  cholesterol,  the  net 
impact  of  this  bile  acid  binding  is  a lowering  of  the  body's  cholesterol  level.  It's  worth  noting  that  steamed  mustard 
greens  (and  all  steamed  forms  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables)  show  much  greater  bile  acid  binding  ability  than  raw 
mustard  greens. 

• For  total  glucosinolate  content,  mustard  greens  rank  high  on  the  list  of  commonly  eaten  cruciferous  vegetables,  and  in 
one  study,  were  second  only  to  Brussels  sprouts  in  terms  of  total  glucosinolate  content.  Glucosinolates  are  phytonutrients 
that  provide  us  with  unique  health  benefits  because  they  can  be  converted  into  isothiocyanates  (ITCs)  that  have  cancer- 
preventive  properties.  All  cruciferous  vegetables  have  long  been  known  to  contain  glucosinolates,  but  it's  recent  research 
that's  made  us  realize  how  valuable  mustard  greens  are  in  this  regard. 

• The  cancer  protection  we  get  from  mustard  greens  may  be  largely  related  to  two  special  glucosinolates  found  in  this 
cruciferous  vegetable:  sinigrin  and  gluconasturtiian.  Sinigrin  can  be  converted  into  allyl-isothiocyanate  (AITC)  and 
gluconasturtiian  can  be  converted  into  phenethyl-isothiocyanate  (PEITC).  Both  AITC  and  PEITC  have  well-documented 
cancer-preventive  and  anti-inflammatory  properties. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

You'll  want  to  include  mustard  greens  as  one  of  the  cruciferous  vegetables  you  eat  on  a regular  basis  if  you  want  to  receive  the 
fantastic  health  benefits  provided  by  the  cruciferous  vegetable  family.  At  a minimum,  include  cruciferous  vegetables  as  part  of 
your  diet  2-3  times  per  week,  and  make  the  serving  size  at  least  1-1/2  cups.  Even  better  from  a health  standpoint,  enjoy 
mustard  greens  and  other  vegetables  from  the  cruciferous  vegetable  group  4-5  times  per  week  and  increase  your  serving  size  to 
2 cups. 

We  recommend  Healthy  Sauteeing  mustard  greens  rather  than  using  the  more  traditional  methods  of  boiling  or  steaming 
mustard  greens.  Healthy  Saute  helps  to  keep  them  from  getting  soft  and  watery  and  retains  their  flavor.  Chop  mustard  greens 
and  let  them  sit  for  at  least  5 minutes  to  enhance  their  health-promoting  benefits  before  cooking.  See  Healthiest  Way  of 
Cooking  Mustard  Greens  in  the  How  to  Enjoy  section  below. 


Mustard  Greens,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(140.00  grams) 

Calories:  36 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

922% 

vitamin  A 

96% 

vitamin  C 

47% 

copper 

22% 

manganese 

19% 

calcium 

17% 

vitamin  E 

17% 

fiber 

11% 

vitamin  B6 

8% 

phosphorus 

8% 

iron 

7% 

vitamin  B2 

7% 

protein 

7% 

potassium 

6% 

magnesium 

5% 

vitamin  B 1 

5% 

vitamin  B3 

4% 

pantothenic  acid 

3% 

folate 

3% 

Health  Benefits 


Unlike  some  of  their  fellow  cruciferous  vegetables,  mustard  greens  have  not  been  the  direct  focus  of  most  health-oriented 
research  studies.  However,  mustard  greens  have  sometimes  been  included  in  a longer  list  of  cruciferous  vegetables  that  have 
been  lumped  together  and  studied  to  determine  potential  types  of  health  benefits.  Based  upon  several  dozen  studies  involving 
cruciferous  vegetables  as  a group  (and  including  mustard  greens  on  the  list  of  vegetables  studied),  cancer  prevention  appears  to 
be  a standout  area  for  mustard  greens  when  summarizing  health  benefits. 

This  connection  between  mustard  greens  and  cancer  prevention  should  not  be  surprising  since  mustard  greens  provide  special 
nutrient  support  for  three  body  systems  that  are  closely  connected  with  cancer  development  as  well  as  cancer  prevention. 

These  three  systems  are  (1)  the  body's  detox  system,  (2)  its  antioxidant  system,  and  (3)  its  inflammatory/anti-inflammatory 
system.  Chronic  imbalances  in  any  of  these  three  systems  can  increase  risk  of  cancer,  and  when  imbalances  in  all  three  systems 
occur  simultaneously,  the  risk  of  cancer  increases  significantly.  Among  all  types  of  cancer,  prevention  of  the  following  cancer 
types  is  most  closely  associated  with  intake  of  mustard  greens:  bladder  cancer,  breast  cancer,  colon  cancer,  lung  cancer, 
prostate  cancer,  and  ovarian  cancer. 

Detox  Support  Provided  by  Mustard  Greens 

The  detox  support  provided  by  mustard  greens  includes  antioxidant  nutrients  to  boost  Phase  1 detoxification  activities  and 
sulfur-containing  nutrients  to  boost  Phase  2 activities.  Mustard  greens  also  contain  phytonutrients  called  glucosinolates  that 
can  help  activate  detoxification  enzymes  and  regulate  their  activity.  At  least  three  key  glucosinolates  have  been  clearly 
identified  in  mustard  greens  in  significant  amounts:  sinigrin,  gluconasturtiian,  and  glucotropaeolin. 

If  we  fail  to  give  our  body's  detox  system  adequate  nutritional  support,  yet  continue  to  expose  ourselves  to  unwanted  toxins 
through  our  lifestyle  and  our  dietary  choices,  we  can  place  our  bodies  at  increased  risk  of  toxin-related  damage  that  can 
eventually  increase  our  cells'  risk  of  becoming  cancerous.  That's  one  of  the  reasons  it's  so  important  to  bring  mustard  greens 
and  other  cruciferous  vegetables  into  our  diet  on  a regular  basis. 

The  Antioxidant  Benefits  of  Mustard  Greens 

As  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  C,  vitamin  E,  vitamin  A (in  the  form  of  carotenoids),  and  manganese,  mustard  greens  give  us 
high  level  support  for  four  conventional  antioxidant  nutrients.  But  the  antioxidant  support  provided  by  mustard  greens  extends 
far  beyond  these  conventional  nutrients  and  into  the  realm  of  phytonutrients.  Hydroxycinnamic  acid,  quercetin,  isorhamnetin, 
and  kaempferol  are  among  the  key  antioxidant  phytonutrients  provided  by  mustard  greens.  This  broad  spectrum  antioxidant 
support  helps  lower  the  risk  of  oxidative  stress  in  our  cells.  Chronic  oxidative  stress — meaning  chronic  presence  of  overly 
reactive  oxygen-containing  molecules  and  cumulative  damage  to  our  cells  by  these  molecules — is  a risk  factor  for 
development  of  most  cancer  types.  By  providing  us  with  a diverse  array  of  antioxidant  nutrients,  mustard  greens  help  lower 
our  cancer  risk  by  helping  us  avoid  chronic  and  unwanted  oxidative  stress. 

Mustard  Greens'  Anti-inflammatory  Benefits 

As  an  excellent  source  of  vitamin  K,  mustard  greens  provide  us  with  great  amounts  of  a hallmark  anti-inflammatory  nutrient. 
Vitamin  K acts  as  a direct  regulator  of  our  inflammatory  response.  While  glucobrassicin  (a  glucosinolate  found  in  many 
cruciferous  vegetables,  and  the  precursor  for  the  anti-inflammatory  molecule  indole-3-carbinol)  does  not  appear  to  be  present 
in  mustard  greens  in  significant  amounts,  other  glucosinolates  present  in  mustard  greens  may  provide  important  anti- 
inflammatory benefits  and  are  the  subject  of  current  research. 

Like  chronic  oxidative  stress  and  chronic  weakened  detox  ability,  chronic  unwanted  inflammation  can  significantly  increase 
our  risk  of  cancers  and  other  chronic  diseases  (especially  cardiovascular  diseases). 

Mustard  Greens  and  Cardiovascular  Support 

Researchers  have  looked  at  a variety  of  cardiovascular  problems — including  heart  attack,  ischemic  heart  disease,  and 
atherosclerosis — and  found  preliminary  evidence  of  an  ability  on  the  part  of  cruciferous  vegetables  to  lower  our  risk  of  these 
health  problems.  Yet  regardless  of  the  specific  cardiovascular  problem,  it  is  one  particular  type  of  cardiovascular  benefit  that 
has  most  interested  researchers,  and  that  benefit  is  the  anti-inflammatory  nature  of  mustard  greens  and  their  fellow  cruciferous 
vegetables.  Scientists  have  not  always  viewed  cardiovascular  problems  as  having  a central  inflammatory  component,  but  the 
role  of  unwanted  inflammation  in  creating  problems  for  our  blood  vessels  and  circulation  has  become  increasingly 
fundamental  to  an  understanding  of  cardiovascular  diseases.  While  glucoraphanin  (a  glucosinolate  found  in  many  cruciferous 


vegetables,  and  the  precursor  for  sulforaphane,  an  isothiocyanate  with  important  anti-inflammatory  properties)  does  not  appear 
to  be  present  in  mustard  greens  in  significant  amounts,  other  glucosinolates  present  in  mustard  greens  may  provide  important 
anti-inflammatory  benefits  and  are  the  subject  of  current  research. 

A second  area  you  can  count  on  mustard  greens  for  cardiovascular  support  involves  their  cholesterol-lowering  ability.  Our  liver 
uses  cholesterol  as  a basic  building  block  to  product  bile  acids.  Bile  acids  are  specialized  molecules  that  aid  in  the  digestion 
and  absorption  of  fat  through  a process  called  emulsification.  These  molecules  are  typically  stored  in  fluid  form  in  our  gall 
bladder,  and  when  we  eat  a fat-containing  meal,  they  get  released  into  the  intestine  where  they  help  ready  the  fat  for  interaction 
with  enzymes  and  eventual  absorption  up  into  the  body.  When  we  eat  mustard  greens,  fiber-related  nutrients  in  this  cruciferous 
vegetable  bind  together  with  some  of  the  bile  acids  in  the  intestine  in  such  a way  that  they  simply  stay  inside  the  intestine  and 
pass  out  of  our  body  in  a bowel  movement,  rather  than  getting  absorbed  along  with  the  fat  they  have  emulsified.  When  this 
happens,  our  liver  needs  to  replace  the  lost  bile  acids  by  drawing  upon  our  existing  supply  of  cholesterol,  and  as  a result,  our 
cholesterol  level  drops  down.  Mustard  greens  provide  us  with  this  cholesterol-lowering  benefit  whether  they  are  raw  or 
cooked.  However,  a recent  study  has  shown  that  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  raw  mustard  greens  improves  significantly 
when  they  are  steamed.  In  fact,  when  the  cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  steamed  mustard  greens  was  compared  with  the 
cholesterol-lowering  ability  of  the  prescription  drug  cholestyramine  (a  medication  that  is  taken  for  the  purpose  of  lowering 
cholesterol),  mustard  greens  bound  34%  as  many  bile  acids  (based  on  a standard  of  comparison  involving  total  dietary  fiber). 

Description 

All  cruciferous  vegetables  provide  integrated  nourishment  across  a wide  variety  of  nutritional  categories  and  provide  broad 
support  across  a wide  variety  of  body  systems  as  well.  For  more  on  cruciferous  vegetables  see: 

• Eating  Healthy  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

• Feeling  Great  with  Cruciferous  Vegetables 

Spunky  and  soulful  describe  the  taste  of  mustard  greens  that  add  a pungent,  peppery  flavor  to  recipes  in  which  they  are 
featured.  Although  they  are  available  throughout  the  year,  they  are  in  season  from  December  through  April  when  they  are  at 
their  best  and  most  readily  available. 

Mustard  greens  are  the  leaves  of  the  mustard  plant,  Brassica  juncea.  Mustard  greens  come  in  a host  of  varieties  that  each  has 
distinct  characteristics.  Adding  these  brilliant  leaves  to  your  food  preparations  will  certainly  enhance  the  beauty  of  any  meal. 
Most  mustard  greens  are  actually  emerald  green  in  color,  while  some  are  not  green  at  all  but  rather  shades  of  dark  red  or  deep 
purple.  The  leaves  of  mustard  greens  can  have  either  a crumpled  or  flat  texture  and  may  have  either  toothed,  scalloped,  frilled, 
or  lacey  edges.  Mizuna  is  one  type  of  mustard  green  that  is  oftentimes  available  in  stores.  In  addition  to  providing  wonderfully 
nutritious  greens,  this  plant  also  produces  the  acrid-tasting  brown  seeds  that  are  used  to  make  Dijon  mustard. 

History 

Mustard  greens  originated  in  the  Himalayan  region  of  India  and  have  been  grown  and  consumed  for  more  than  5,000  years. 
Mustard  greens  are  a notable  vegetable  in  many  different  cuisines,  ranging  from  Chinese  to  Southern  American.  Like  turnip 
greens,  they  may  have  become  an  integral  part  of  Southern  cuisine  during  the  times  of  slavery,  serving  as  a substitute  for  the 
greens  that  were  an  essential  part  of  Western  African  foodways.  While  India,  Nepal,  China  and  Japan  are  among  the  leading 
producers  of  mustard  greens,  a significant  amount  of  mustard  greens  are  grown  in  the  United  States  as  well. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Purchase  mustard  greens  that  are  unblemished  and  free  from  any  yellowing  or  brown  spots.  They  should  look  fresh  and  crisp 
and  be  a lively  green  color. 

Place  mustard  greens  in  a plastic  bag,  removing  as  much  of  the  air  from  the  bag  as  possible.  Store  in  the  refrigerator  where 
they  should  keep  fresh  for  about  three  to  four  days. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 


Young  mustard  greens  make  great  additions  to  salads. 


• Serve  healthy  sauteed  mustard  greens  with  walnuts. 

• Adding  chopped  mustard  greens  to  a pasta  salad  gives  it  a little  kick.  One  of  our  favorite  combinations  is  chopped 
tomatoes,  pine  nuts,  goat  cheese,  pasta,  and  mustard  greens  tossed  with  a little  olive  oil. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Mustard  Greens 

• Curried  Mustard  Greens  & Garbanzo  Beans  with  Sweet  Potatoes 

Safety 

Mustard  Greens  and  Goitrogens 

You  may  sometimes  hear  mustard  greens  being  described  as  a food  that  contains  "goitrogens,"  or  as  a food  that  is 
"goitrogenic."  For  helpful  information  in  this  area — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article  What 
is  meant  by  the  term  "goitrogen"  and  what  is  the  connection  between  goitrogens.  food,  and  health?. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Mustard  Greens,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  36 

140.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

829.78  meg 

922 

455.9 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

865.90  meg  RAE 

96 

47.6 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

35.42  mg 

47 

23.4 

excellent 

Conner 

0.20  mg 

22 

11.0 

excellent 

maneanese 

0.38  mg 

19 

9.4 

excellent 

vitamin  E 

2.49  mg  (ATE) 

17 

8.2 

excellent 

calcium 

165.20  mg 

17 

8.2 

excellent 

fiber 

2.80  g 

11 

5.5 

very  good 

Dhosphoms 

58.80  mg 

8 

4.2 

very  good 

vitamin  B6 

0.14  mg 

8 

4.1 

very  good 

nrotein 

3-58  g 

7 

3.5 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.09  mg 

7 

3.4 

very  good 

iron 

1 .22  mg 

7 

3.4 

very  good 

notassium 

226.80  mg 

6 

3.2 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.06  mg 

5 

2.5 

good 

masnesium 

18.20  mg 

5 

2.2 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.61  mg 

4 

1.9 

good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.17  mg 

3 

1.7 

good 

folate 

12.60  meg 

3 

1.6 

good 

World's  Healthiest 

Foods  Rating  Rule 

DRI/D  V>=75%  OR 


excellent 

Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/D V>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 

Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 

Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Ambrosone  CB,  Tang  L.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and  cancer  prevention:  role  of  nutrigenetics.  Cancer  Prev  Res 
(Phila  Pa).  2009  Apr;2(4):298-300.  2009. 

• Angeloni  C,  Leoncini  E,  Malaguti  M,  et  al.  Modulation  of  phase  II  enzymes  by  sulforaphane:  implications  for  its 
cardioprotective  potential.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2009  Jun  24;57(12):561 5-22.  2009. 

• Antosiewicz  J,  Ziolkowski  W,  Kar  S et  al.  Role  of  reactive  oxygen  intermediates  in  cellular  responses  to  dietary  cancer 
chemopreventive  agents.  Planta  Med.  2008  Oct;74(13):  1570-9.  2008. 

• Banerjee  S,  Wang  Z,  Kong  D,  et  al.  3,3'-Diindolylmethane  enhances  chemosensitivity  of  multiple  chemotherapeutic 
agents  in  pancreatic  cancer.  3,3'-Dhndolylmethane  enhances  chemosensitivity  of  multiple  chemotherapeutic  agents  in 
pancreatic  cancer.  2009. 

• Bhattacharya  A,  Tang  L,  Li  Y,  et  al.  Inhibition  of  bladder  cancer  development  by  allyl  isothiocyanate.  Carcinogenesis. 
2010  Feb;31(2):281-6.  2010. 

• Brat  P,  George  S,  Bellamy  A,  et  al.  Daily  Polyphenol  Intake  in  France  from  Fruit  and  Vegetables.  J.  Nutr.  136:2368- 
2373,  September  2006.  2006. 

• Bryant  CS,  Kumar  S,  Chamala  S,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  induces  cell  cycle  arrest  by  protecting  RB-E2F-1  complex  in 
epithelial  ovarian  cancer  cells.  Molecular  Cancer  2010,  9:47.  2010. 

• Carpenter  CL,  Yu  MC,  and  London  SJ.  Dietary  isothiocyanates,  glutathione  S-transferase  Ml  (GSTM1),  and  lung  cancer 
risk  in  African  Americans  and  Caucasians  from  Los  Angeles  County,  California.  Nutr  Cancer.  2009;61(4):492-9.  2009. 

• Christopher  B,  Sanjeez  K,  Sreedhar  C,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  induces  cell  cycle  arrest  by  protecting  RB-E2F-1  complex  in 
epithelial  ovarian  cancer  cells.  Molecular  Cancer  Year:  2010  Vol:  9 Issue:  1 Pages/record  No.:  47.  2010. 

• Clarke  JD,  Dashwood  RH,  Ho  E.  Multi-targeted  prevention  of  cancer  by  sulforaphane.  Cancer  Lett.  2008  Oct 
8;269(2):29 1-304.  2008. 

• Comelis  MC,  El-Sohemy  A,  Campos  H.  GSTT1  genotype  modifies  the  association  between  cruciferous  vegetable  intake 
and  the  risk  of  myocardial  infarction.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2007  Sep;86(3):752-8.  2007. 

• Fowke  JH,  Morrow  JD,  Motley  S,  et  al.  Brassica  vegetable  consumption  reduces  urinary  F2-isoprostane  levels 
independent  of  micronutrient  intake.  Carcinogenesis,  October  1,  2006;  27(10):  2096  - 2102.  2006. 

• Higdon  JV,  Delage  B,  Williams  DE,  et  al.  Cruciferous  Vegetables  and  Human  Cancer  Risk:  Epidemiologic  Evidence  and 
Mechanistic  Basis.  Pharmacol  Res.  2007  March;  55(3):  224-236.  2007. 

• Hu  J,  Straub  J,  Xiao  D,  et  al.  Phenethyl  isothiocyanate,  a cancer  chemopreventive  constituent  of  cruciferous  vegetables, 
inhibits  cap-dependent  translation  by  regulating  the  level  and  phosphorylation  of  4E-BP1.  Cancer  Res.  2007  Apr 
15;67(8):3569-73.  2007. 

• Hutzen  B,  Willis  W,  Jones  S,  et  al.  Dietary  agent,  benzyl  isothiocyanate  inhibits  signal  transducer  and  activator  of 
transcription  3 phosphorylation  and  collaborates  with  sulforaphane  in  the  growth  suppression  of  PANC-1  cancer  cells. 
Cancer  Cell  International  2009,  9:24.  2009. 

• Jiang  H,  Shang  X,  Wu  H,  et  al.  Combination  treatment  with  resveratrol  and  sulforaphane  induces  apoptosis  in  human 
U251  glioma  cells.  Neurochem  Res.  2010  Jan;35(l):152-61.  2010. 

• Kahlon  TS,  Chiu  MC,  Chapman  MH.  Steam  cooking  significantly  improves  in  vitro  bile  acid  binding  of  collard  greens, 
kale,  mustard  greens,  broccoli,  green  bell  pepper,  and  cabbage.  2008  Jun;28(6):351-7.  2008. 

• Kelemen  LE,  Cerhan  JR,  Lim  U,  et  al.  Vegetables,  fruit,  and  antioxidant-related  nutrients  and  risk  of  non-Hodgkin 
lymphoma:  a National  Cancer  Institute-Surveillance,  Epidemiology,  and  End  Results  population-based  case-control 
study.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006  Jun;83(6):1401-10.  2006. 

• Konsue  N,  Ioannides  C.  Modulation  of  carcinogen-metabolising  cytochromes  P450  in  human  liver  by  the 
chemopreventive  phytochemical  phenethyl  isothiocyanate,  a constituent  of  cruciferous  vegetables.  Toxicology.  2010  Feb 
9;268(3):  1 84-90.  2010. 

• Kunimasa  K,  Kobayashi  T,  Kaji  K et  al.  Antiangiogenic  effects  of  indole-3-carbinol  and  3,3'-diindolylmethane  are 
associated  with  their  differential  regulation  of  ERK1/2  and  Akt  in  tube-forming  HUVEC.  J Nutr.  2010  Jan;140(l):l-6. 
2010. 

• Lakhan  SE,  Kirchgessner  A,  Hofer  M.  Inflammatory  mechanisms  in  ischemic  stroke:  therapeutic  approaches.  Journal  of 
Translational  Medicine  2009,  7:97.  2009. 

• Larsson  SC,  Andersson  SO,  Johansson  JE,  et  al.  Fruit  and  vegetable  consumption  and  risk  of  bladder  cancer:  a 
prospective  cohort  study.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2008  Sep;17(9):2519-22.  2008. 


• Lin  J,  Kamat  A,  Gu  J,  et  al.  Dietary  intake  of  vegetables  and  fruits  and  the  modification  effects  of  GSTM1  and  NAT2 
genotypes  on  bladder  cancer  risk.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev.  2009  Jul;18(7):2090-7.  2009. 

• Machijima  Y,  Ishikawa  C,  Sawada  S,  et  al.  Anti-adult  T-cell  leukemia/lymphoma  effects  of  indole-3 -carbinol. 

Retro  virology  2009,  6:7.  2009. 

• Moore  LE,  Brennan  P,  Karami  S,  et  al.  Glutathione  S-transferase  polymorphisms,  cruciferous  vegetable  intake  and 
cancer  risk  in  the  Central  and  Eastern  European  Kidney  Cancer  Study.  Carcinogenesis.  2007  Sep;28(9):  1960-4.  Epub 
2007  Jul  7.  2007. 

• Nettleton  JA,  Steffen  LM,  Mayer-Davis  EJ,  et  al.  Dietary  patterns  are  associated  with  biochemical  markers  of 
inflammation  and  endothelial  activation  in  the  Multi-Ethnic  Study  of  Atherosclerosis  (MESA).  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2006 
Jun;83(6):  1369-79.  2006. 

• Rungapamestry  V,  Duncan  AJ,  Fuller  Z et  al.  Effect  of  cooking  brassica  vegetables  on  the  subsequent  hydrolysis  and 
metabolic  fate  of  glucosinolates.  Proc  Nutr  Soc.  2007  Feb;66(l):69-81.  2007. 

• Silberstein  JL,  Parsons  JK.  Evidence-based  principles  of  bladder  cancer  and  diet.  Urology.  2010  Feb;75(2):340-6.  2010. 

• Steinbrecher  A,  Linseisen  J.  Dietary  Intake  of  Individual  Glucosinolates  in  Participants  of  the  EPIC-Heidelberg  Cohort 
Study.  Ann  Nutr  Metab  2009;54:87-96.  2009. 

• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Guru  K et  al.  Consumption  of  Raw  Cruciferous  Vegetables  is  Inversely  Associated  with  Bladder 
Cancer  Risk.  Cancer  Res.  2007  Apr  15;67(8):3569-73.  2007. 

• Tang  L,  Zirpoli  GR,  Jayaprakash  V,  et  al.  Cruciferous  vegetable  intake  is  inversely  associated  with  lung  cancer  risk 
among  smokers:  a case-control  study.  BMC  Cancer  2010,  10:162.  2010. 

• Tarozzi  A,  Morroni  F,  Merlicco  A,  et  al.  Sulforaphane  as  an  inducer  of  glutathione  prevents  oxidative  stress-induced  cell 
death  in  a dopaminergic-like  neuroblastoma  cell  line.  J Neurochem.  2009  Dec;  111(5):1161-71.  2009. 

• Zhang  Y.  Allyl  isothiocyanate  as  a cancer  chemopreventive  phytochemical.  Mol  Nutr  Food  Res.  2010  Jan;54(l):127-35. 
2010. 


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Olive  oil,  extra  virgin 

Anyone  coming  from  the  Mediterranean  region  of  the  world  would  tell  you  about  the  health  benefits,  as  well  as  the  wonderful 
flavor,  of  a good  dose  of  olive  oil  on  salads,  pasta,  fish  and  almost  anything  else.  Fortunately,  it  is  available  throughout  the  year 
to  satisfy  taste  buds  and  promote  good  health. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Extra  Virgin  Olive  Oil 

• The  quality  of  olive  oil  production — especially  the  stage  of  pressing — really  does  make  a difference  when  it  comes  to 
health  benefits.  Recent  studies  have  compared  the  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  extra  virgin  olive  oil  (EVOO)  obtained 
from  the  first  pressing  of  the  oil  to  the  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  virgin  olive  oils  (non-EVOO)  obtained  from  later 
pressings.  What  researchers  found  was  an  ability  of  EVOO  to  lower  inflammatory  markers  in  the  blood  when  non- 
EVOOs  were  unable  to  do  so.  (Study  measurements  included  blood  levels  of  thromboxane  A2,  or  TXA2,  and 
leukotriene  B2,  or  LBT2.)  This  ability  of  extra  virgin  olive  oil  to  help  protect  against  unwanted  inflammation  is  not 
surprising,  since  EVOO  is  known  to  contain  stronger  concentrations  of  phytonutrients  (especially  polyphenols)  that  have 
well-known  anti-inflammatory  properties. 

• Mediterranean  Diet  studies  have  long  associated  olive  oil  intake  with  decreased  risk  of  heart  disease.  However,  a recent 
group  of  studies  has  provided  us  with  a fascinating  explanation  of  olive  oil's  cardioprotective  effect.  One  of  the  key 
polyphenols  in  olive  oil — hydroxytyrosol  (HT) — helps  protect  the  cells  that  line  our  blood  vessels  from  being  damaged 
by  overly  reactive  oxygen  molecules.  HT  helps  protect  the  blood  vessel  cells  by  triggering  changes  at  a genetic  level. 

The  genetic  changes  triggered  by  HT  help  the  blood  vessel  cells  to  enhance  their  antioxidant  defense  system.  In  other 
words,  olive  oil  supports  our  blood  vessels  not  only  by  providing  antioxidants  like  like  vitamin  E and  beta-carotene. 
Olive  oil  also  provides  our  blood  vessels  with  unique  molecules  like  HT  that  actually  work  at  a genetic  level  to  help  the 
cellular  walls  of  the  blood  vessels  remain  strong. 

• Olive  oil  has  long  been  recognized  for  its  high  percentage  of  monounsaturated  fat.  This  plant  contains  between  70-85% 
of  its  fat  in  the  form  of  oleic  acid  - a monounsaturated,  omega-9  fatty  acid.  As  a concentrated  source  of  monounsaturated 
fat,  olive  oil  actually  has  some  good  company  in  the  plant  oil  department.  Three  increasingly  popular  plant  oils  that 
immediate  come  to  mind  in  this  respect  are  high-oleic  safflower  oil,  high-oleic  sunflower  oil,  and  avocado  oil.  The  total 
fat  content  in  each  of  these  oils  can  rise  to  70%  or  more  in  terms  of  monounsaturated  fat.  (Canola  oil  usually  drops  this 
percentage  one  step  lower,  with  its  monounsaturated  fat  content  typically  falling  into  the  60-65%  range.  And  some 
popular  plant  oils  drop  the  monounsaturated  fat  content  down  a lot  more.  Corn  oil,  for  example,  is  usually  25-30% 
monounsaturated,  and  coconut  oil  is  even  lower  at  5-1%) 

When  diets  low  in  monounsaturated  fat  are  altered  to  increase  the  monounsaturated  fat  content  (by  replacing  other  oils 
with  olive  oil),  research  study  participants  tend  to  experience  a significant  decrease  in  their  total  blood  cholesterol,  LDL 
cholesterol,  and  LDL:HDL  ratio.  Recent  research  studies  have  taken  these  heart-healthy  effects  of  olive  oil  one  step 
further.  Olive  oil's  monounsaturated  fat  content  (specifically,  its  high  level  of  oleic  acid)  has  now  been  determined  to  be 
a mechanism  linking  olive  oil  intake  to  decreased  blood  pressure.  Researchers  believe  that  the  plentiful  amount  of  oleic 
acid  in  olive  oil  gets  absorbed  into  the  body,  finds  its  way  into  cell  membranes,  changes  signaling  patterns  at  a cell 
membrane  level  (specifically,  altering  G-protein  associated  cascades)  and  thereby  lowers  blood  pressure.  To  our 
knowledge,  this  is  the  first  time  that  the  monounsaturated  fat  content  of  olive  oil  has  been  linked  not  only  to  cholesterol 
reduction,  but  also  to  reduction  of  blood  pressure. 

• Cancer  prevention  has  been  one  of  the  most  active  areas  of  olive  oil  research,  and  the  jury  is  no  longer  out  on  the  health 
benefits  of  olive  oil  with  respect  to  cancer.  Twenty-five  studies  on  olive  oil  intake  and  cancer  risk — including  most  of  the 
large-scale  human  studies  conducted  up  through  the  year  2010 — have  recently  been  analyzed  by  a team  of  researchers  at 
the  Mario  Negri  Institute  for  Pharmacological  Research  Institute  in  Milan,  Italy.  Firmly  established  by  this  research  team 
were  the  risk-reducing  effects  of  olive  oil  intake  with  respect  to  cancers  of  the  breast,  respiratory  tract,  upper  digestive 
tract  and,  to  a lesser  extent,  lower  digestive  tract  (colorectal  cancers).  These  anti-cancer  benefits  of  olive  oil  became 
most  evident  when  the  diets  of  routine  olive  oil  users  were  compared  with  the  diets  of  individuals  who  seldom  used  olive 
oil  and  instead  consumed  diets  high  in  saturated  added  fat,  especially  butter. 


Olive  Oil,  cold  pressed  extra  virgin 
1.00  TBS 

Calories:  119 

(13.50  grams) 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  E 13% 

Health  Benefits 


Thanks  to  its  status  as  a spotlight  food  in  the  Mediterranean  Diet,  and  thanks  to  extensive  research  on  its  unique  phytonutrient 
composition,  olive  oil  has  become  a legendary  culinary  oil  with  very  difficult-to-match  health  benefits.  Among  its  extensive 
list  of  phytonutrients,  no  single  category  of  nutrients  is  more  important  than  its  polyphenols.  The  polyphenol  content  of  this 
delicious  oil  is  truly  amazing!  The  list  below  shows  some  of  the  key  polyphenols  found  in  olive  oil,  organized  by  their 
chemical  category: 

• Simple  Phenols 

o tyrosol 
o hydroxytyrosol 

• Terpenes 

o oleuropein 
o ligstroside 

• Flavones 

° apigenin 
o luteolin 

• Hydroxycinnamic  acids 

o caffeic  acid 
o cinnamic  acid 
o ferulic  acid 
o coumaric  acid 

• Anthocyanidins 

o cyanidins 
o peonidins 

• Flavonols 

o quercetin 
o kaempferol 

• Flavonoid  glycosides 

o rutin 

• Lignans 

o pinoresinol 

• Hydroxybenzoic  acids 

o vanillic  acid 
o syringic  acid 

Most  of  the  polyphenols  in  this  list  have  been  shown  to  function  both  as  antioxidants  and  also  as  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  in 
the  body.  The  very  number  and  variety  of  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  helps  explain  the  unique  health  benefits  of  this  culinary  oil. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

It's  unusual  to  think  about  a culinary  oil  as  an  anti-inflammatory  food.  Plant  oils  are  nearly  100%  fat,  and  in  a general  dietary 
sense,  they  are  typically  classified  as  "added  fats."  Intake  of  too  much  added  dietary  fat  can  be  a problem  for  many  reasons — 
including  reasons  involving  unwanted  inflammation.  So  it's  pretty  remarkable  to  find  a culinary  oil  that's  repeatedly  been 
shown  to  have  anti-inflammatory  properties  and  provide  health  benefits  in  the  area  of  unwanted  inflammation.  Yet  that's 
exactly  the  research  track  record  that  describes  extra  virgin  olive  oil. 

The  anti-inflammatory  strength  of  olive  oil  rests  on  its  polyphenols.  These  anti-inflammatory  compounds  include  at  least  nine 
different  categories  of  polyphenols  and  more  than  two  dozen  well-researched  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  Research  has 
documented  a wide  variety  of  anti-inflammatory  mechanisms  used  by  olive  oil  polyphenols  to  lower  our  risk  of  inflammatory 
problems.  These  mechanisms  include  decreased  production  of  messaging  molecules  that  would  otherwise  increase 
inflammation  (including  TNF-alpha,  interleukin  1-beta,  thromboxane  B2,  and  leukotriene  B4);  inhibition  of  pro-inflammatory 
enzymes  like  cyclo-oxygenase  1 and  cyclo-oxygenase  2;  and  decreased  synthesis  of  the  enzyme  inducible  nitric  oxide 
synthase. 

In  heart  patients,  olive  oil  and  its  polyphenols  have  also  been  determined  to  lower  blood  levels  of  C-reactive  protein  (CRP),  a 
widely  used  blood  measurement  for  assessing  the  likelihood  of  unwanted  inflammation.  They  have  also  been  found  to  reduce 
activity  in  a metabolic  pathway  called  the  arachidonic  acid  pathway,  which  is  central  for  mobilizing  inflammatory  processes. 


These  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  extra  virgin  olive  oil  do  not  depend  on  large  levels  of  intake.  As  little  as  1-2  tablespoons 
of  extra  virgin  olive  oil  per  day  have  been  shown  to  be  associated  with  significant  anti-inflammatory  benefits. 

Cardiovascular  Benefits 

Many  different  cardiovascular  problems — including  gradual  blocking  of  the  arteries  and  blood  vessels  (called  atherosclerosis) 
— have  their  origin  in  two  unwanted  circumstances.  The  first  of  these  circumstances  is  called  oxidative  stress.  Oxidative  stress 
means  too  much  damage  (or  risk  of  damage)  from  the  presence  of  overly  reactive  oxygen-containing  molecules.  One  of  the 
best  ways  to  help  avoid  oxidative  stress  is  to  consume  a diet  that  is  rich  in  antioxidant  nutrients.  The  second  of  these 
circumstances  is  ongoing  (chronic)  and  undesirable  low-level  inflammation.  Undesirable  and  chronic  inflammation  can  result 
from  a variety  of  factors,  including  unbalanced  metabolism,  unbalanced  lifestyle,  unwanted  exposure  to  environmental 
contaminants,  and  other  factors.  One  of  the  best  ways  to  help  avoid  chronic  and  unwanted  inflammation  is  to  consume  a diet 
that  is  rich  in  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  Any  food  that  is  rich  in  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients  is  a natural 
candidate  for  lowering  our  risk  of  heart  problems,  because  it  contains  the  exactly  right  combination  of  nutrients  to  lower  our 
risk  of  oxidative  stress  and  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation.  Many  foods  contain  valuable  amounts  of  antioxidants  and  anti- 
inflammatory compounds,  but  few  foods  are  as  rich  in  these  compounds  as  extra  virgin  olive  oil,  and  this  fact  alone  accounts 
for  many  of  the  research-based  benefits  of  this  culinary  oil  for  health  of  our  cardiovascular  system. 

In  terms  of  antioxidant  protection  for  our  blood  vessels,  olive  oil  has  been  shown  to  lower  risk  of  lipid  peroxidation  (oxygen 
damage  to  fat)  in  our  bloodstream.  Many  of  the  fat-containing  molecules  in  our  blood — including  molecules  like  LDL — need 
to  be  protected  from  oxygen  damage.  Oxygen  damage  to  molecules  like  LDL  significantly  increases  our  risk  of  numerous 
cardiovascular  diseases,  including  atherosclerosis.  Protection  of  the  LDL  molecules  in  our  blood  from  oxygen  damage  is  a 
major  benefit  provided  by  olive  oil  and  its  polyphenols.  Equally  important  is  protection  against  oxygen  damage  to  the  cells  that 
line  our  blood  vessels.  Once  again,  it's  the  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  that  have  been  shown  to  provide  us  with  that  protection. 

One  process  we  don't  want  to  see  in  our  blood  vessels  is  too  much  clumping  together  of  blood  cells  called  platelets.  While  we 
want  to  see  blood  platelets  clump  together  under  circumstances  like  an  open  wound,  where  their  clumping  together  acts  to  seal 
off  the  wound,  we  don't  want  this  process  to  occur  in  an  ongoing  way  when  there  is  no  acute  emergency.  Several  of  the 
polyphenols  found  in  olive  oil — including  hydroxytyrosol,  oleuropein  and  luteolin — appear  to  be  especially  helpful  in  keeping 
our  blood  platelets  in  check  and  avoiding  problems  of  too  much  clumping  (called  platelet  aggregation).  There  are  also  two 
messaging  molecules  (called  plasminogen  activator  inhibitor- 1 and  factor  VII)  that  are  capable  of  triggering  too  much 
clumping  together  of  the  platelets,  and  the  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  can  help  stop  overproduction  of  these  molecules. 

Olive  oil  is  one  of  the  few  widely  used  culinary  oils  that  contains  about  75%  of  its  fat  in  the  form  of  oleic  acid  (a 
monounsaturated,  omega-9  fatty  acid).  Research  has  long  been  clear  about  the  benefits  of  oleic  acid  for  proper  balance  of  total 
cholesterol,  LDL  cholesterol,  and  HDL  cholesterol  in  the  body.  When  diets  low  in  monounsaturated  are  made  high  in 
monounsaturated  fat  (by  replacing  other  oils  with  olive  oil),  research  study  participants  tend  to  experience  a significant 
decrease  in  their  total  blood  cholesterol,  LDL  cholesterol,  and  LDL:HDL  ratio.  Those  are  exactly  the  results  we  want  for  heart 
health.  In  addition  to  these  cholesterol-balancing  effects  of  olive  oil  and  its  high  oleic  acid  content,  however,  comes  a new 
twist:  recent  research  studies  have  shown  that  olive  oil  and  its  oleic  acid  may  be  important  factors  for  lowering  blood  pressure. 
Researchers  believe  that  the  plentiful  amount  of  oleic  acid  in  olive  oil  gets  absorbed  into  the  body,  finds  its  way  into  cell 
membranes,  changes  signaling  patterns  at  a cell  membrane  level  (specifically,  altering  G-protein  associated  cascades)  and 
thereby  lowers  blood  pressure. 

Interestingly,  a recent  laboratory  animal  study  adds  one  note  of  caution  for  anyone  wanting  to  bring  the  unique  cardiovascular 
benefits  of  olive  oil  into  their  diet.  This  study  found  that  cardiovascular  benefits  from  olive  oil  and  its  polyphenols  were  not 
realized  when  the  laboratory  animals  consumed  too  many  calories  and  too  much  total  food.  This  result  suggests  that  olive  oil — 
outstanding  as  it  is  in  polyphenol  protection  of  our  cardiovascular  system — needs  to  be  integrated  into  an  overall  healthy  diet 
in  order  to  provide  its  expected  benefits. 

Digestive  Health  Benefits 

Benefits  of  olive  oil  for  the  digestive  tract  were  first  uncovered  in  research  on  diet  and  cancers  of  the  digestive  tract.  Numerous 
studies  found  lower  rates  of  digestive  tract  cancers — especially  cancers  of  the  upper  digestive  tract,  including  the  stomach  and 
small  intestine — in  populations  that  regularly  consumed  olive  oil.  Studies  on  the  Mediterranean  Diet  were  an  important  part  of 
this  initial  research  on  olive  oil  and  the  digestive  tract.  Protection  of  the  lower  digestive  tract  (for  example,  protection  of  the 
colon  from  colon  cancer)  is  less  well-documented  in  the  olive  oil  research,  even  though  there  is  some  strongly  supportive 
evidence  from  select  laboratory  animal  studies.  Many  of  these  anti-cancer  effects  in  the  digestive  tract  were  believed  to  depend 
on  the  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  and  their  antioxidant  plus  anti-inflammatory  properties.  One  particular  category  of  polyphenols, 
called  secoiridoids,  continues  to  be  a focus  in  research  on  prevention  of  digestive  tract  cancers. 


Recent  research  has  provided  us  with  even  more  information,  however,  about  olive  oil,  its  polyphenols,  and  protection  of  the 
digestive  tract.  One  fascinating  area  of  recent  research  has  involved  the  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  and  the  balance  of  bacteria  in 
our  digestive  tract.  Numerous  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  have  been  shown  to  slow  the  growth  of  unwanted  bacteria,  including 
bacteria  commonly  responsible  for  digestive  tract  infections.  These  polyphenols  include  oleuropein,  hydroxytyrosol,  and 
tyrosol.  Some  of  these  same  polyphenols — along  with  other  olive  oil  polyphenols  like  ligstroside — are  specifically  able  to 
inhibit  the  growth  of  the  Helicobacter  pylori  bacterium.  This  effect  of  the  olive  oil  polyphenols  may  be  especially  important, 
since  overpopulation  of  Helicobacter  bacteria  coupled  with  over-attachment  of  Helicobacter  to  the  stomach  lining  can  lead  to 
stomach  ulcer  and  other  unwanted  digestive  problems. 

Bone  Health  Benefits 

Support  of  overall  bone  health  is  another  promising  area  of  olive  oil  research.  While  most  of  the  initial  study  in  this  area  has 
been  conducted  on  laboratory  animals,  better  blood  levels  of  calcium  have  been  repeatedly  associated  with  olive  oil  intake.  In 
addition,  at  least  two  polyphenols  in  olive  oil — tyrosol  and  hydroxytyrosol — have  been  shown  to  increase  bone  formation  in 
rats.  A recent  group  of  researchers  has  also  suggested  that  olive  oil  may  eventually  prove  to  have  special  bone  benefits  for 
post-menopausal  women,  since  they  found  improved  blood  markers  of  overall  bone  health  in  female  rats  who  had  been  fed 
olive  oil  after  having  their  ovaries  removed.  Taken  as  a group,  the  above  studies  suggest  that  bone  health  benefits  may 
eventually  be  viewed  as  an  important  aspect  of  olive  oil  intake. 

Cognitive  Benefits 

Improved  cognitive  function — especially  among  older  adults — is  a well-known  feature  of  the  Mediterranean  Diet.  As  the 
staple  oil  in  that  diet,  olive  oil  has  been  of  special  interest  for  researchers  interested  in  diet  and  cognitive  function.  In  France,  a 
recent  study  large-scale  study  on  older  adults  has  shown  that  visual  memory  and  verbal  fluency  can  be  improved  with  what  the 
researchers  called  "intensive  use"  of  olive  oil.  In  this  case,  "intensive  use"  meant  regular  use  of  olive  oil  not  just  for  cooking,  or 
as  an  ingredient  in  sauces  and  dressings,  but  in  all  of  these  circumstances. 

Equally  fascinating  to  us  in  the  area  of  cognition  has  been  recent  research  on  olive  oil  intake  and  brain  function.  In  laboratory 
animals  with  brain  function  that  had  been  compromised  by  lack  of  oxygen,  consumption  of  olive  oil  helped  offset  many 
different  types  of  brain-related  problems,  including  unbalanced  water  content,  unbalanced  nervous  system  activity,  and  too 
easy  passage  of  molecules  across  the  blood  brain  barrier.  This  animal  research  has  given  scientists  many  further  clues  about  the 
ways  in  which  olive  oil  might  provide  us  with  cognitive  benefits.  The  ability  to  help  protect  our  brain  during  times  of 
imbalance  may  turn  out  to  be  one  of  the  special  health  benefits  offered  by  this  unique  culinary  oil. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

The  polyphenols  found  in  olive  oil  are  a natural  for  helping  us  lower  our  risk  of  certain  cancer  types.  Many  types  of  cancer 
only  get  initiated  when  cells  are  overwhelmed  by  oxidative  stress  (damage  to  cell  structure  and  function  by  overly  reactive 
oxygen-containing  molecules)  and  by  chronic  excessive  inflammation.  Since  the  polyphenols  in  olive  oil  act  both  as 
antioxidants  and  anti-inflammatory  molecules,  they  are  perfectly  suited  for  lowering  our  cells'  risk  of  oxidative  stress  and 
chronic  unwanted  inflammation.  Research  studies  have  shown  that  as  little  as  1 -2  tablespoons  of  olive  oil  per  day  can  lower 
our  risk  of  certain  cancer  types,  including  cancers  of  the  breast,  respiratory  tract,  upper  digestive  tract,  and  to  a lesser  extent, 
lower  digestive  tract  (colorectal  cancers).  In  some  research  studies,  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  olive  oil  do  not  show  up  until  the 
diets  of  routine  olive  oil  users  are  compared  with  the  diets  of  individuals  who  seldom  use  olive  oil  and  who  instead  consume 
added  fats  that  are  more  saturated  in  composition  (for  example,  butter). 

While  most  of  the  anti-cancer  research  on  olive  oil  has  focused  on  its  polyphenols  and  their  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory 
properties,  several  studies  have  uncovered  other  fascinating  ways  in  which  olive  oil  provides  its  anti-cancer  benefits.  These 
other  ways  include  the  improvement  of  cell  membrane  function  in  a way  that  lowers  risk  of  cancer  development  and  the 
altering  gene  expression  in  cells  in  a way  that  enhances  their  antioxidant  defense  system.  A final  important  mechanism  linking 
olive  oil  intake  to  decreased  cancer  risk  involves  protection  of  our  DNA.  The  antioxidants  in  olive  oil  appear  to  have  a special 
ability  to  protect  DNA  (deoxyribonucleic  acids) — the  key  chemical  component  of  genetic  material  in  our  cells — from  oxygen 
damage.  DNA  protection  from  unwanted  oxidative  stress  means  better  cell  function  in  wide  variety  of  ways  and  provides  a cell 
with  decreased  risk  of  cancer  development. 

There  is  also  encouraging  research  on  the  potential  for  olive  oil  to  help  with  control  of  certain  cancers  once  they  have  already 
developed.  For  example,  improvement  of  breast  cancer  status  has  been  an  area  of  particular  interest  in  olive  oil  research.  Here 
some  of  the  research  has  focused  on  the  secoiridoids  in  olive  oil  (especially  oleocanthal),  and  its  ability  to  help  keep  breast 
cancer  cells  from  reproducing.  Another  example  involves  the  ability  of  hydroxytyrosol  (HT)  in  olive  oil  to  trigger  programmed 
cell  death  (apoptosis)  in  colon  cancer  cells.  HT  may  be  able  to  accomplish  this  anti-cancer  effect  by  helping  block  the 


enzymatic  activity  of  fatty  acid  synthetase  (FAS).  These  cancer-controlling  properties  of  olive  oil  and  olive  oil  constituents  are 
generally  referred  to  as  the  "antiproliferative"  properties  of  olive  oil.  We  expect  to  see  more  future  research  in  this  area. 

Description 

Olive  oil  is  made  from  the  crushing  and  then  subsequent  pressing  of  olives.  The  fact  that  olives  are  rich  in  oil  is  reflected  in  the 
botanical  name  of  the  olive  tree — Olea  europea — since  the  word  "oleum"  means  oil  in  Latin.  Olive  oil  is  available  in  a variety 
of  grades,  which  reflect  the  degree  to  which  it  has  been  processed.  Extra  virgin  olive  oil  is  derived  from  the  first  pressing  of  the 
olives  and  has  the  most  delicate  flavor  and  strongest  overall  health  benefits.  See  How  to  Select  and  Store  for  more  information 
on  these  different  grades  of  olive  oil. 

History 

Olives,  one  of  the  oldest  foods  known,  are  thought  to  have  originated  in  Crete  or  Syria  between  five  and  seven  thousand  years 
ago.  Since  ancient  times,  the  olive  tree  has  provided  food,  fuel,  timber  and  medicine  for  many  civilizations,  and  has  been 
regarded  as  a symbol  of  peace  and  wisdom.  The  venerable  oil  of  the  olive  has  been  consumed  since  as  early  as  3,000  B.C. 

It's  not  clear  exactly  how  olive  trees  arrived  in  the  U.S.,  but  it's  clear  that  the  time  frame  was  much  later,  during  the  1500- 
1700's.  Spanish  colonizers  of  North  America  definitely  brought  olive  trees  across  the  Atlantic  Ocean  during  the  1500-1700's, 
and  while  some  may  have  been  brought  directly  to  the  region  which  is  now  California,  olive  trees  may  also  have  been  brought 
to  the  region  from  Mexico,  where  cultivation  by  the  Spanish  was  already  underway. 

Olive  oil  has  been  and  still  is  a staple  in  the  diet  of  many  Mediterranean  countries.  The  recent  discovery  that  the  Mediterranean 
diet,  which  features  this  prized  oil,  may  be  linked  to  a reduced  risk  of  heart  disease  and  other  health  conditions  has  caused 
olive  oil  to  become  very  popular  in  the  United  States  in  the  past  few  decades.  Today,  much  of  the  commercial  cultivation  of 
olive  oil  is  still  centered  in  the  Mediterranean  region  in  such  countries  as  Spain  (36%  of  total  production),  Italy  (25%),  and 
Greece  (18%).  These  countries — along  with  the  remaining  European  countries — also  consume  about  two-thirds  of  all  olive  oil 
that  is  produced.  Regions  of  the  world  with  quickly-increasing  consumption  and  production  of  olive  oil  include  South  America 
(especially  Chile)  and  Australia. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Since  olive  oil  can  become  rancid  from  exposure  to  light  and  heat,  there  are  some  important  purchasing  criteria  you  should 
follow  to  ensure  buying  a better  quality  product.  Look  for  olive  oils  that  are  sold  in  dark  tinted  bottles  since  the  packaging  will 
help  protect  the  oil  from  oxidation  caused  by  exposure  to  light.  In  addition,  make  sure  the  oil  is  displayed  in  a cool  area,  away 
from  any  direct  or  indirect  contact  with  heat. 

When  you  shop  for  olive  oil,  you  will  notice  a host  of  different  grades  are  available,  including  extra-virgin,  virgin,  refined  and 
pure: 

• Extra  virgin  olive  oil  (EVOO)  is  the  unrefined  oil  derived  from  the  first  pressing  of  the  olives  and  has  the  most  delicate 
flavor 

• Virgin  olive  oil  is  also  derived  from  the  first  pressing  of  the  olives  but  has  a higher  acidity  level  than  extra  virgin  olive 
oil  (as  well  as  lower  phytonutrient  levels  and  a less  delicate  taste).  According  to  the  standards  adopted  by  the 
International  Olive  Council  (IOC),  "virgin"  can  contain  up  to  2%  free  acidity  (expressed  as  oleic  acid),  while  "extra 
virgin"  can  only  contain  up  to  0.8%  of  free  acidity. 

It  is  important  to  note,  however,  that  acidity  is  by  no  means  the  only  difference  between  EVOO  and  other  grades  of  olive 
oil.  In  fact,  a sizeable  amount  of  controversy  has  arisen  within  the  olive  oil  industry  over  key  characteristics  of  EVOO 
and  the  extent  to  which  these  characteristics  are  present  in  commercial  products.  Since  over  90%  of  all  EVOO  consumed 
in  the  United  States  is  imported,  many  evaluators  of  EVOO  have  looked  to  the  International  Olive  Council  (IOC) 
headquartered  in  Madrid,  Spain  for  quality  criteria  in  evaluating  EVOO.  However,  unlike  Italy,  Spain,  Greece,  Portugal, 
and  other  European  Union  countries  that  were  founding  members  of  the  IOC,  the  United  States  has  never  become  an 
official  IOC  member  country  or  adopted  IOC  standards  for  EVOO  as  its  own  mandatory  standards. 

In  the  United  States,  voluntary  standards  for  olive  oil  have  traditionally  been  set  by  the  U.S.  Department  of  Agriculture 
(USDA),  which  in  2010  did  update  its  own  standards  to  more  closely  resemble  IOC  standards  in  terms  of  EVOO 
chemistry.  However,  even  though  most  IOC  chemical  standards  like  percent  free  acidity  were  adopted  by  the  USDA, 
some  differences  remain  between  IOC  and  USDA  chemical  criteria.  (In  addition,  since  2010,  the  IOC  has  gone  on  to 


update  and  revise  some  of  its  chemical  standards,  and  these  changes  are  not  reflected  in  the  existing  USD  A criteria.)  But 
a perhaps  even  bigger  part  of  the  controversy  over  EVOO  standards  has  not  involved  chemical  criteria  like  percent  free 
acidity  but  rather  sensory  criteria  (also  called  "organoleptic"  criteria)  like  taste  and  aroma.  If  you  consider  olive  oil  as 
falling  into  the  category  of  a fresh  fruit  juice  (in  the  sense  that  an  olives  actually  belong  to  a special  group  of  fruits  called 
"drupes"  and  can  be  pressed  to  obtain  their  oil  or  "juice"),  aroma  and  taste  might  be  considered  as  defining 
characteristics  of  this  food.  Assurance  of  excellent  taste  and  aroma  is  a more  difficult  regulatory  standard  than  assurance 
of  a chemical  standard  like  percent  free  acidity,  and  to  some  extent  may  require  closer  monitoring  of  local  conditions  and 
plant  varieties.  In  this  context,  several  organizations  in  the  U.S.  offer  their  own  quality  seal  for  EVOO,  including  the 
California  Olive  Oil  Council  (COOC)  and  the  North  American  Olive  Oil  Association  (NAOOA).  Quality  seals  from 
these  organizations  can  help  provide  assurance  about  EVOO  quality. 

Similar  organizations  exist  in  Europe  and  can  be  helpful  for  assuring  EVOO  quality.  In  most  cases,  your  best  bet  is  to 
look  for  specific  initials  on  the  olive  oil  container  that  represent  official  review  and  sanctioning  by  these  organizations. 
Among  your  options  here  are  the  designations  "A.O.C."  or  "D.O.P."  or  "D.P.O."  or  "D.O."  "A.O.C."  stands  for  the 
French  term  "Appellation  D'origine  Controlee."  "D.O.P."  stands  for  the  Italian  "Denominazione  d'Origine  Protetta"  (note 
that  D.O.P.  is  also  written  as  "D.P.O."  in  some  other  European  countries).  In  Spain,  a similar  designation  is  "D.O."  which 
stands  for  "Denominacion  de  Origen."  Any  of  these  initials  can  help  provide  assurance  of  quality  with  respect  to  extra 
virgin  olive  oils. 

• "Pure  olive  oil"  is  a phrase  that  is  somewhat  confusing,  and  perhaps  also  somewhat  misleading.  If  you  see  the  term 
"pure"  on  the  label  of  an  olive  oil  container,  it  typically  means  that  the  oil  is  a blend  of  refined  and  unrefined  virgin  olive 
oils.  "Refined  olive  oil"  is  obtained  from  unrefined  virgin  olive  oils,  and  it's  only  allowed  to  contain  up  to  0.3%  of  free 
acidity.  However,  while  lower  in  free  acidity  than  extra  virgin  or  virgin  olive  oils,  refined  olive  oil  loses  some  of  its 
unique  nutrient  content  through  the  refining  process.  For  this  reason,  we  recommend  the  purchase  of  extra  virgin  olive 
oil  over  all  other  olive  oil  types,  including  "pure  olive  oil." 

Another  term  that  you  may  see  on  a bottle  of  olive  oil  is  "cold  pressed."  This  term  means  that  very  minimal  heating  (and  by 
IOC  standards,  under  81F/27C)  was  used  when  mechanically  processing  the  olives  to  obtain  their  oil.  We  like  the  idea  of  cold 
pressed  extra  virgin  olive  oil,  because  we  believe  that  minimal  use  of  heating,  combined  with  the  phytonutrient-rich  first 
pressing  of  the  oil,  provides  the  strongest  possible  nutrient  composition  from  an  extracted  oil. 

Proper  storage  techniques  for  olive  oil  are  very  important,  not  only  to  preserve  the  delicate  taste  of  the  oil,  but  also  to  ensure 
that  it  does  not  spoil  and  become  rancid,  which  will  have  a negative  effect  on  its  nutritional  profile. 

Even  though  olive  oil's  monounsaturated  fats  are  more  stable  and  heat-resistant  than  the  polyunsaturated  fats  that  predominate 
in  other  oils  (especially  the  easily  damaged  omega-3  fatty  acids  found  in  flax  seed  oil,  which  should  always  be  refrigerated  and 
never  heated),  olive  oil  should  be  stored  properly  and  used  within  1-2  months  to  ensure  its  healthy  phytonutrients  remain  intact 
and  available.  Research  studies  have  shown  compromise  in  the  nutritional  quality  of  olive  oil  after  two  months'  period  of  time, 
even  when  the  oil  was  properly  stored. 

Proper  storage  of  olive  oil  includes  protection  from  light.  There  is  debate  about  the  ideal  type  of  storage  container.  Tinted  glass 
bottles  are  one  of  the  best  storage  options  for  preventing  unwanted  contamination  of  the  olive  oil  with  packaging  materials  (as 
might  occur,  for  example,  with  the  use  of  dark  plastic  bottles  in  which  very  small  amounts  of  plastic  might  migrate  from  the 
bottle  into  the  oil).  However,  depending  upon  the  degree  and  type  of  glass  tinting,  exposure  to  all  light  might  not  be  prevented 
with  the  use  of  tinted  glass.  Metal  containers  for  olive  oil  storage  are  also  an  option,  although  it  is  unclear  about  the  potential 
for  olive  oil  to  be  affected  by  the  metal  elements  in  the  container.  The  transfer  of  olive  oil  to  a sealed  ceramic  container  is  also 
an  option.  If  you  decide  to  purchase  olive  oil  in  a tinted  glass  bottle,  we  recommend  that  you  store  it  in  a lightproof  area,  like  a 
cabinet  with  solid  doors  or  closed  pantry.  If  you  decide  to  purchase  in  either  plastic  or  metal  containers,  you  may  want  to  take 
the  additional  step  of  moving  the  oil  into  a ceramic  container  that  can  be  sealed.  If  you  aren't  sure  how  quickly  you  will  be 
using  your  olive  oil,  you  may  want  to  buy  it  in  small-size  amounts  to  avoid  the  problems  that  can  arise  with  longer-term 
storage. 

Purchase  only  as  much  as  you  will  use  in  one  to  two  months  and  store  away  from  light  and  heat.  Protect  your  olive  oil's  flavor 
and  antioxidants  by  transferring  7 to  10  days'  worth  of  oil  to  a smaller  bottle  to  lessen  the  oxidation  that  occurs  when  the  oil  is 
exposed  to  air.  Leave  this  small  bottle  at  room  temperature  for  easy  use,  but  refrigerate  the  rest.  When  chilled,  olive  oil  will 
solidify  slightly  and  turn  cloudy,  but  once  restored  to  room  temperature,  it  will  regain  its  normal  appearance,  and  its  quality 
will  be  better  maintained.  Although  it  may  be  convenient,  definitely  don't  store  your  olive  oil  near  the  stove  as  the  heat  will 
damage  it. 

While  we  haven't  seen  research  that  discusses  declines  in  carotenoids  and  vitamin  E for  extra  virgin  olive  oil,  we  have  seen  it 
for  virgin  oil.  While  this  is  not  the  type  of  oil  we  recommend,  we  still  thought  to  include  this  interesting  information  here: 


Research  conducted  at  the  University  of  Lleida  in  Spain  and  reported  in  the  Journal  of  Agriculture  and  Food  Chemistry  found 
that  levels  of  chlorophyll,  carotenoids  and  antioxidant  phenols  dropped  dramatically  after  virgin  olive  oil  had  been  in  storage 
12  months-even  under  the  best  controlled  conditions. 

Chlorophyll  content  dropped  by  as  much  as  30%;  beta-carotene  by  40%,  and  vitamin  E (alpha-tocopherol)  by  100%! 

Phenols,  which  are  not  only  the  main  antioxidants  in  virgin  olive  oil,  but  are  also  responsible  for  its  distinctive  rich  flavor,  also 
dropped  precipitously  after  12  months  storage. 

Research  published  in  New  Scientist  magazine  has  confirmed  that  light  destroys  many  of  the  antioxidants  in  olive  oil. 
Researchers  at  the  University  of  Bari,  in  southern  Italy,  compared  oils  stored  in  the  light  or  in  the  dark  for  12  months.  Oils 
stored  in  clear  bottles  under  supermarket  lighting  lost  at  least  30%  of  their  tocopherols  (vitamin  E)  and  carotenoids. 

After  just  two  months'  exposure  to  light,  peroxide  (free  radical)  levels  had  increased  so  much  that  the  olive  oil  could  no  longer 
be  classified  as  extra  virgin. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Use  extra  virgin  olive  oil  in  your  salad  dressings. 

• Puree  minced  garlic,  cooked  potatoes  and  extra  virgin  olive  oil  together  to  make  exceptionally  delicious  garlic  mashed 
potatoes.  Season  to  taste. 

• Drizzle  extra  virgin  olive  oil  over  healthy  sauteed  vegetables  before  serving. 

• Puree  extra  virgin  olive  oil,  garlic  and  your  favorite  beans  together  in  a food  processor.  Season  to  taste  and  serve  as  a 
dip. 

• Instead  of  putting  the  butter  dish  out  on  the  table,  place  a small  cup  of  extra  virgin  olive  oil  out  instead  to  use  on  your 
bread  or  rolls.  For  extra  flavor,  try  adding  a little  Balsamic  vinegar  or  any  of  your  favorite  spices  to  the  extra  virgin  olive 
oil. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Extra  Virgin  Olive  Oil 

You'll  find  that  many  of  our  recipes  feature  extra  virgin  olive  oil.  For  example,  we  like  to  add  it  to  vegetables  after  they  have 
been  lightly  cooked,  either  on  its  own,  or  as  part  of  our  Mediterranean  Dressing. 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Olive  Oil,  cold  pressed  extra  virgin 
1.00  TBS 
13.50  grams 

Calories:  119 
GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

Amount 

DRI/DV 

(%) 

Nutrient 

Density 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

vitamin  E 

1.94  mg  (ATE) 

13 

2.0 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

DRI/D V >=75  % OR 


excellent 

Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 

Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 

Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

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• Salvini  S,  Sera  F,  Caruso  D,  Giovannelli  L,  Visioli  F,  Saieva  C,  Masala  G,  Ceroti  M,  Giovacchini  V,  Pitozzi  V,  Galli  C, 
Romani  A,  Mulinacci  N,  Bortolomeazzi  R,  Dolara  P,  Palli  D.  Daily  consumption  of  a high-phenol  extra-virgin  olive  oil 
reduces  oxidative  DNA  damage  in  postmenopausal  women.  Br  J Nutr.  2006  Apr;95(4):742-51.  2006.  PMID:  1657 11 54. 


Sanchez-Hernandez  L,  Castro-Puyana  M,  Luisa  Marina  M et  al.  Determination  of  betaines  in  vegetable  oils  by  capillary 
electrophoresis  tandem  mass  spectrometry  - application  to  the  detection  of  olive  oil  adulteration  with  seed  oils. 
Electrophoresis.  2011  Jun;32(ll):1394-401.  doi:  10.1002/elps.201100005.  Epub2011  Apr  26.  2011. 

St-Onge  MP  and  Bosarge  A.  Weight-loss  diet  that  includes  consumption  of  medium-chain  triacylglycerol  oil  leads  to  a 
greater  rate  of  weight  and  fat  mass  loss  than  does  olive  oil.  The  American  Journal  of  Clinical  Nutrition,  Volume  87, 
Number  3 (March  2008),  pp.  621-626.  2008. 

Teres  S,  Barcelo-Coblijn  G,  Benet  M et  al.  Oleic  acid  content  is  responsible  for  the  reduction  in  blood  pressure  induced 
by  olive  oil.  Proc  Natl  Acad  Sci  USA.  2008  September  16;  105(37):  13811-13816.  Published  online  2008  September  4. 
doi:  10. 1073/pnas. 0807500105.  2008. 

Vichi  S,  Romero  A,  Tous  J et  al.  The  Activity  of  Healthy  Olive  Microbiota  during  Virgin  Olive  Oil  Extraction  Influences 
Oil  Chemical  Composition.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2011  May  1 1 ;59(9):4705-47 14.  Epub  2011  Apr  20.  2011. 

Visioli  F and  Bernardini  E.  Extra  Virgin  Olive  Oil's  Polyphenols:  Biological  Activities.  Curr  Pharm  Des. 

2011;  1 7(8):786-804.  2011. 

Zrelli  H,  Matsuoka  M,  Kitazaki  S et  al.  Hydroxytyrosol  Induces  Proliferation  and  Cytoprotection  against  Oxidative 
Injury  in  Vascular  Endothelial  Cells:  Role  of  Nrf2  Activation  and  HO-1  Induction.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2011  May 
ll;59(9):4473-82.  Epub  2011  Apr  13.  2011. 


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Olives 


Even  though  more  attention  has  been  sometimes  been  given  to  their  delicious  oil  than  their  whole  food  delights,  olives  are  one 
of  the  world's  most  widely  enjoyed  foods.  Technically  classified  as  fruits  of  the  Olea  europea  tree  (an  amazing  tree  that 
typically  lives  for  hundreds  of  years)  we  commonly  think  about  olives  not  as  fruit  but  as  a zesty  vegetable  that  can  be  added 
are  harvested  in  September  but  available  year  round  to  make  a zesty  addition  to  salads,  meat  and  poultry  dishes  and,  of  course, 
pizza. 

Olives  are  too  bitter  to  be  eaten  right  off  the  tree  and  must  be  cured  to  reduce  their  intrinsic  bitterness.  Processing  methods  vary 
with  the  olive  variety,  region  where  they  are  cultivated,  and  the  desired  taste,  texture  and  color.  Some  olives  are  picked  unripe, 
while  others  are  allowed  to  fully  ripen  on  the  tree.  The  color  of  an  olive  is  not  necessarily  related  to  its  state  of  maturity.  Many 
olives  start  off  green  and  turn  black  when  fully  ripe.  However,  some  olives  start  off  green  and  remain  green  when  fully  ripe, 
while  others  start  of  black  and  remain  black.  In  the  United  States,  where  most  olives  come  from  California,  olives  are  typically 
green  in  color,  picked  in  an  unripe  state,  lye-cured,  and  then  exposed  to  air  as  a way  of  triggering  oxidation  and  conversion  to  a 
black  outer  color.  Water  curing,  brine  curing,  and  lye  curing  are  the  most  common  treatment  processes  for  olives,  and  each  of 
these  treatments  can  affect  the  color  and  composition  of  the  olives. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Olives 

• Dozens  of  health-protective  nutrients  have  been  identified  in  olives,  and  recent  studies  have  taken  a very  close  look  at 
olive  varieties,  olive  processing,  and  changes  that  take  place  in  olive  nutrients.  The  overall  conclusion  from  these  studies 
is  exciting  for  anyone  who  loves  olives  of  all  varieties.  Greek-style  black  olives,  Spanish-style  green  olives,  Kalamata- 
style  olives,  and  many  different  methods  of  olive  preparation  provide  us  with  valuable  amounts  of  many  different 
antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  While  there  are  trade-offs  that  occur  during  olive  ripening  and  olive  curing 
— for  example,  decreased  oleuropein  with  advanced  stages  of  ripening  yet  increased  amounts  of  anthocyanins — it's 
impossible  to  rule  out  any  single  type  of  olive  as  being  unworthy  of  consideration  as  a uniquely  health-supportive  food, 
particularly  in  terms  of  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits. 

• Hydroxytyrosol,  an  olive  phytonutrient  that  has  long  been  linked  to  cancer  prevention,  is  now  regarded  as  having  the 
potential  to  help  us  prevent  bone  loss  as  well.  Several  recent  laboratory  animal  studies  have  found  increased  depositing 
of  calcium  in  bone  and  decreased  loss  of  total  bone  mass  following  consumption  of  this  olive  phytonutrient  (as  well  as 
oleuropein,  another  key  phytonutrient  found  in  olives).  These  findings  are  fascinating,  since  consumption  of  a 
Mediterranean  Diet  has  long  been  associated  with  decreased  risk  of  osteoporosis,  and  olives  often  find  themselves  on 
center  stage  in  Mediterranean  Diet  studies. 

• In  traditional  herbal  medicine  practices,  preparations  from  olives  and  olive  leaves  have  often  been  used  in  treatment  of 
inflammatory  problems,  including  allergy-related  inflammation.  New  research  may  help  explain  how  olives  work  to 
provide  us  with  anti-inflammatory  benefits,  especially  during  circumstances  involving  allergy.  Olive  extracts  have  now 
been  shown  to  function  as  anti-histamines  at  a cellular  level.  By  blocking  special  histamine  receptors  (called  HI 
receptors),  unique  components  in  olive  extracts  may  help  to  lessen  a cell's  histamine  response.  Because  histamine  is  a 
molecule  that  can  get  overproduced  in  allergy-related  conditions  and  can  be  a key  player  in  the  inflammatory  process, 
it's  likely  that  the  anti-inflammatory  benefits  we  get  from  olives  involve  this  anti-histamine  pathway.  It's  also  possible 
that  olives  may  have  a special  role  to  play  as  part  of  an  overall  anti-allergenic  diet. 


Olives,  black,  canned 
1.00  cup 
(134.40  grams) 

Calories:  155 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

copper 

38% 

iron 

25% 

fiber 

17% 

vitamin  E 

15% 

Health  Benefits 

While  commonly  recognized  as  a high-fat  food  (about  80-85%  of  the  calories  in  olives  come  from  fat),  olives  are  not  always 
appreciated  for  the  type  of  fat  they  contain.  Olives  are  unusual  in  their  fat  quality,  because  they  provide  almost  three-quarters 
of  their  fat  as  oleic  acid,  a monounsaturated  fatty  acid.  (In  addition  they  provide  a small  amount  of  the  essential  fatty  acid 


called  linoleic  acid,  and  a very  small  amount  of  alpha-linolenic  acid,  an  omega-3  fatty  acid.)  The  high  monounsaturated  fat 
content  of  olives  has  been  associated  with  reduced  risk  of  cardiovascular  disease.  When  diets  low  in  monounsaturated  fat  are 
altered  to  increase  the  monounsaturated  fat  content  (without  becoming  too  high  in  total  fat),  research  study  participants 
typically  experience  a decrease  in  their  blood  cholesterol,  LDL  cholesterol,  and  LDL:HDL  ratio.  All  of  these  changes  lower 
our  risk  of  heart  disease. 

Recent  research  studies  have  also  shown  that  the  monounsaturated  fat  found  in  olives  (and  olive  oil)  can  help  to  decrease  blood 
pressure.  The  oleic  acid  found  in  olives — once  absorbed  up  into  the  body  and  transported  to  our  cells — can  change  signaling 
patterns  at  a cell  membrane  level  (specifically,  altering  G-protein  associated  cascades).  These  changes  at  a cell  membrane  level 
result  in  decreased  blood  pressure. 

In  terms  of  their  phytonutrient  content,  olives  are  nothing  short  of  astounding.  Few  high-fat  foods  offer  such  a diverse  range  of 
antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  nutrients — some  of  which  are  unique  to  olives  themselves.  The  list  below  shows  some  key 
phytonutrients  in  olives,  organized  by  their  chemical  category: 

• Simple  Phenols 

o tyrosol 
o hydroxytyrosol 

• Terpenes  (including  secoiridoids  and  triterpenes) 

o oleuropein 
° demethyloleuropein 
o erythrodiol 
o uvaol 

o oleanolic  acid 
o elenoic  acid 
o ligstroside 

• Flavones 

° apigenin 
o luteolin 

• Hydroxycinnamic  acids 

o caffeic  acid 
o cinnamic  acid 
o ferulic  acid 
o coumaric  acid 

• Anthocyanidins 

o cyanidins 
o peonidins 

• Flavonols 

° quercetin 
o kaempferol 

• Hydroxybenzoic  acids 

° gallic  acid 
° protocatechuic  acid 
o vanillic  acid 
° syringic  acid 

• Hydroxyphenylacetic  acids 

o homovanillic  acid 
o homveratric  acid 

Given  this  phytonutrient  richness,  it's  not  surprising  that  olives  have  documented  health  benefits  that  extend  to  most  of  our 
body  systems.  Olive  benefits  have  been  demonstrated  for  the  cardiovascular  system,  respiratory  system,  nervous  system, 
musculoskeletal  system,  immune  system,  inflammatory  system,  and  digestive  system.  We  believe  that  many  of  these  diverse 
systems  benefits  are  actually  related  to  two  underlying  health-support  aspects  of  olives,  namely,  their  unusual  antioxidant  and 
anti-inflammatory  nutrients.  In  this  Flealth  Benefits  section,  we  will  focus  on  those  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory 
properties  of  olives,  as  well  as  some  anti-cancer  benefits  that  seem  especially  important  with  respect  to  this  food. 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

The  vast  majority  of  olive  phytonutrients  listed  at  the  beginning  of  this  section  function  as  antioxidants  and  help  us  avoid 
unwanted  problems  due  to  oxidative  stress.  "Oxidative  stress"  is  a situation  in  which  our  cells  are  insufficiently  protected  from 
potential  oxygen  damage,  and  oxidative  stress  can  often  be  related  to  an  insufficient  supply  of  antioxidant  nutrients.  Olives  are 


a good  source  of  the  antioxidant  vitamin  E,  and  they  also  contain  small  amounts  of  antioxidant  minerals  like  selenium  and 
zinc.  However,  it's  the  phytonutrient  content  of  olives  that  makes  them  unique  as  an  antioxidant-rich  food. 

Perhaps  the  best-studied  antioxidant  phytonutrient  found  in  olives  is  oleuropein.  Oleuropein  is  found  exclusively  in  olives,  and 
it's  been  shown  to  function  as  an  antioxidant  nutrient  in  a variety  of  ways.  Intake  of  oleuropein  has  been  shown  to  decrease 
oxidation  of  LDL  cholesterol;  to  scavenge  nitric  oxide  (a  reactive  oxygen-containing  molecule);  to  lower  several  markers  of 
oxidative  stress;  and  to  help  protect  nerve  cells  from  oxygen-related  damage. 

One  recent  study  that  caught  our  attention  has  shown  the  ability  of  olives  to  increase  blood  levels  of  glutathione  (one  of  the 
body's  premier  antioxidant  nutrients).  In  a very  interesting  research  twist,  study  participants  were  not  given  fresh  olives  to  eat 
but  rather  the  pulpy  residue  from  olives  that  had  been  previously  milled  to  produce  olive  oil.  Consumption  of  this  olive  pulp 
was  associated  with  significantly  increased  glutathione  levels  in  the  blood  of  the  participants,  and  improvement  in  their 
antioxidant  capacity. 

Interestingly,  there  may  be  common  trade-offs  made  in  the  levels  of  different  olive  antioxidants  during  the  maturation  of  olives 
on  the  tree.  For  example,  the  vitamin  E content  of  olives  may  increase  during  early  ripening  when  the  total  phenolic 
antioxidants  in  olives  are  slightly  decreasing.  Later  on  in  the  maturation  process,  these  trends  may  be  reversed. 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

In  addition  to  their  function  as  antioxidants,  many  of  the  phytonutrients  found  in  olives  have  well-documented  anti- 
inflammatory properties.  Extracts  from  whole  olives  have  been  shown  to  function  as  anti-histamines  at  a cellular  level.  By 
blocking  special  histamine  receptors  (called  HI  receptors),  unique  components  in  whole  olive  extracts  help  to  provide  us  with 
anti-inflammatory  benefits.  In  addition  to  their  antihistamine  properties,  whole  olive  extracts  have  also  been  shown  to  lower 
risk  of  unwanted  inflammation  by  lowering  levels  of  leukotriene  B4  (LTB4),  a very  common  pro-inflammatory  messaging 
molecule.  Oleuropein — one  of  the  unique  phytonutrients  found  in  olives — has  been  shown  to  decrease  the  activity  of  inducible 
nitric  oxide  synthase  (iNOS).  iNOS  is  an  enzyme  whose  overactivity  has  been  associated  with  unwanted  inflammation.  Taken 
as  a group,  these  research  findings  point  to  olives  as  a uniquely  anti-inflammatory  food. 

The  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  olives  have  been  given  special  attention  in  the  area  of  cardiovascular  health.  In  heart 
patients,  olive  polyphenols  have  been  determined  to  lower  blood  levels  of  C-reactive  protein  (CRP).  CRP  is  a widely  used 
blood  measurement  for  assessing  the  likelihood  of  unwanted  inflammation.  Olive  polyphenols  have  also  been  found  to  reduce 
activity  in  a metabolic  pathway  called  the  arachidonic  acid  pathway,  which  is  central  for  mobilizing  inflammatory  processes. 

Anti-Cancer  Benefits 

The  antioxidant  and  anti-inflammatory  properties  of  olives  make  them  a natural  for  protection  against  cancer  because  chronic 
oxidative  stress  and  chronic  inflammation  can  be  key  factors  in  the  development  of  cancer.  If  our  cells  get  overwhelmed  by 
oxidative  stress  (damage  to  cell  structure  and  cell  function  by  overly  reactive  oxygen-containing  molecules)  and  chronic 
excessive  inflammation,  our  risk  of  cell  cancer  is  increased.  By  providing  us  with  rich  supplies  of  antioxidant  and  anti- 
inflammatory nutrients,  olives  can  help  us  avoid  this  dangerous  combination  of  chronic  oxidative  stress  and  chronic 
inflammation. 

Research  on  whole  olives  and  cancer  has  often  focused  on  two  cancer  types:  breast  cancer  and  stomach  (gastric)  cancer.  In  the 
case  of  breast  cancer,  special  attention  has  been  paid  to  the  triterpene  phytonutrients  in  olives,  including  erythrodiol,  uvaol  and 
oleanolic  acid.  These  olive  phytonutrients  have  been  shown  to  help  interrupt  the  life  cycle  of  breast  cancer  cells.  Interruption 
of  cell  cycles  has  also  been  shown  in  the  case  of  gastric  cancer,  but  with  this  second  type  of  cancer,  the  exact  olive 
phytonutrients  involved  are  less  clear. 

One  of  the  mechanisms  linking  olive  intake  to  cancer  protection  may  involve  our  genes.  Antioxidant  phytonutrients  in  olives 
may  have  a special  ability  to  protect  DNA  (deoxyribonucleic  acids) — the  key  chemical  component  of  genetic  material  in  our 
cells — from  oxygen  damage.  DNA  protection  from  unwanted  oxidative  stress  means  better  cell  function  in  wide  variety  of 
ways  and  provides  cells  with  decreased  risk  of  cancer  development. 

Description 

From  a botanical  standpoint,  olives  belong  to  a very  special  group  of  fruits  called  drupes.  Drupes  are  fruits  that  have  a pit  or 
stone  at  their  core,  and  this  pit  is  surrounded  by  a larger  fleshy  portion  called  the  pericarp.  Other  drupes  commonly  found  in 
diets  worldwide  include  mango,  cherry,  peach,  plum,  apricot,  nectarine,  almond,  and  pistachio. 


There  are  literally  hundreds  of  varieties  of  olive  trees,  but  all  of  them  belong  in  the  same  scientific  category  of  Olea  europea. 
"Olea"  is  the  Latin  word  for  "oil,"  and  reflects  the  high  oil  content  of  this  food.  Olive  trees  are  native  to  the  Mediterranean,  as 
well  as  different  parts  of  Asia  and  Africa.  Their  Mediterranean  origins  are  highlighted  in  their  species  name,  europea,  since 
countries  bordering  the  north  shore  of  the  Mediterranean  Sea  are  typically  considered  as  parts  of  southern  Europe.  Olive  trees 
can  have  remarkable  longevity.  Most  live  to  an  age  of  several  hundred  years,  and  in  at  least  one  case,  a carbon-dated  world 
record  for  an  olive  tree  stands  at  2,000  years!  Although  olive  trees  may  produce  more  olives  in  lowland  terrain,  they  are 
comfortable  growing  in  mountainous,  rocky  conditions  and  often  thrive  along  the  hillsides  of  Spain,  Italy  and  Greece. 

Olives  come  in  many  different  varieties.  In  the  United  States,  five  varieties  account  for  most  commercial  production.  These 
varieties  are  Manzanillo,  Sevillano,  Mission,  Ascolano  and  Barouni,  and  all  are  grown  almost  exclusively  in  California. 
Picholine  and  Rubra  are  two  additional  varieties  produced  in  California  in  smaller  amounts. 

Kalamata  olives  are  one  olive  variety  that  deserves  special  mention.  Authentic  Kalamata  olives  come  from  Kalamon  olive  trees 
in  southern  Greece  and  get  their  name  from  Kalamata,  their  city  of  origin.  European  Union  (EU)  law  provides  Kalamata  olives 
with  Protected  Geographical  Status  and  Protected  Designation  of  Origin  and  does  not  allow  product  labeling  as  "Kalamata" 
unless  the  olives  have  come  from  this  specific  area.  However,  outside  of  the  European  Union  countries,  there  are  no  binding 
legal  standards  for  labeling  of  Kalamata  olives.  In  the  U.S.,  many  canned  and  jarred  olives  are  referred  to  as  "Kalamata-style" 
or  "Kalamata-type"  olives  and  these  olives  are  not  authentic  Kalamata  olives  grown  in  the  Kalamata  area  of  southern  Greece. 
Genuine  Kalamata  olives  are  usually  allowed  to  ripe  fully  before  harvest.  Different  methods  of  curing  can  be  used  during 
production  of  Kalamata  olives.  Some  Greek  producers  use  dry-curing  as  a method  of  choice.  In  dry-curing,  olives  are  covered 
directly  in  salt  rather  than  soaked  in  brine  (a  concentrated  salt  liquid).  Dry-curing  is  often  used  for  olives  that  will  be  stored  for 
longer  periods  of  time,  and  Kalamata  olives  that  have  been  dry-cured  can  often  be  identified  by  their  wrinkly  skin.  Dry-cured 
Kalamata  olives  are  eventually  packaged  in  olive  oil  or  olive  oil/vinegar  combinations  to  which  other  seasonings  are 
sometimes  added.  Kalamata  olives  can  also  be  cured  in  a salt  brine  or  in  water,  and  in  both  cases,  red  wine  vinegar  and/or  red 
wine  are  typically  used  to  give  the  olives  their  delicious  flavors.  Most  "Kalamata-style"  and  "Kalamata-type"  olives  have  been 
cured  in  this  way.  Authentic  Kalamata  olives  from  southern  Greece  that  have  been  cured  using  red  wine  and/or  red  wine 
vinegar  are  available  in  many  groceries,  especially  those  groceries  that  stock  specialty  foods.  Genuine  Kalamata  olives  will 
almost  always  be  labeled  as  "imported"  and  may  also  be  labeled  as  "PDO  Kalamata"  to  reflect  their  compliance  with  European 
Union  regulations. 

Kalamata  are  only  one  among  many  Mediterranean  olive  varieties.  The  list  below  contains  some  of  the  better-known  varieties 
of  Mediterranean  olives: 

• ITALY 

o Cipresino 
o Coratina 
o Frantoio 
° Grappoio 
o Intrana 
o Leccino 
° Lecin  de  Sevilla 
o Moraiolo 
° Pendolino 
o Santa  Cateria 
° Taggiasca 

• SPAIN 

° Arbequina 
o Bical 
o Blanqueta 
o Cornicabra 
o Farga 

° Gordal  Sevillana 
o Hojiblanca 
o Lemono 
° Manzanillo 
o Morrut 
o Nevadillo 
o Piqual 

• GREECE 

o Adriamitini 
o Amigdalolia 


o Chalkidiki 
o Kalamon 
o Koroneiki 
o Megaritiki 
o Mirtoia 

When  freshly  picked  from  the  tree,  olives  often  (but  not  always)  have  a bitter  flavor.  This  bitterness  is  related  to  their 
phytonutrient  content,  and  especially  to  their  concentration  of  oleuropein  (a  secoirodoid  terpene).  In  order  to  help  offset  their 
bitter  taste,  olives  are  typically  cured.  (Curing  is  also  sometimes  referred  to  as  "pickling.")  There  are  three  basic  types  of  curing 
widely  used  to  lower  the  bitterness  in  olives.  There  types  are: 

Water-curing 

Water-curing  of  olives — -just  like  the  name  suggests — involves  submersion  of  the  olives  in  water  for  a period  of  several  weeks 
or  longer.  Water-cured  olives  typically  remain  slightly  bitter  because  water-curing  removes  less  oleuropein  from  the  olives  than 
other  curing  methods. 

Brine-curing 

Brine-curing  involves  the  submersion  of  olives  in  a concentrated  salt  solution.  Greek  style  olives  in  brine  and  Sicilian  style 
olives  in  brine  are  examples  of  brine-cured  olives.  Brine-curing  can  take  many  months,  and  olives  often  undergo  fermentation 
during  the  brine-curing  process.  (Fermentation  means  that  the  sugars  found  in  olives  will  often  get  broken  down  into  lactic  or 
acetic  acid,  and  oleuropein  will  be  freed  to  migrate  into  the  brine.)  Many  changes  in  flavor  and  phytonutrient  composition  can 
take  place  during  the  brine-curing  process. 

Lye-curing 

Lye-curing  involves  the  submersion  of  olives  in  a strong  alkali  solutions  containing  either  sodium  hydroxide  (NaOH)  or 
potassium  hydroxide  (KOH).  Lye-curing  usually  occurs  in  a series  of  sequential  steps.  A first  lye  bath  will  cure  the  skin  and 
outermost  portion  of  the  olives.  This  first  solution  is  then  drained  from  the  olives  and  discarded  and  the  olives  are  submerged 
in  a second  lye  solution  which  begins  to  cure  the  next  layer  of  fleshy  pulp  inside  the  olive.  Up  to  five  lye  solutions  may  be 
required  to  cure  the  entire  olive,  all  the  way  down  to  the  pit.  Dark  style  ripe  olives  and  green  olives  are  examples  of  olives  that 
have  typically  been  lye-cured. 

During  the  last  stage  of  lye-curing,  oxygen  gas  is  often  bubbled  up  through  the  lye  solution  to  help  darken  the  olives.  In  the 
United  States,  canned  California  black  olives  are  typically  lye-cured  and  oxygen-darkened. 

Curing  is  not  the  only  factor  that  can  influence  the  color  of  an  olive,  and  it's  worth  pointing  out  that  olive  color  does  not 
automatically  indicate  anything  about  the  curing  process.  Many  olives  start  off  green  and  turn  black  on  the  tree  when  fully  ripe. 
Other  olives  start  off  green  on  the  tree,  remain  green  when  fully  ripe,  and  can  only  be  darkened  by  curing  and/or  air  exposure. 
Still  other  olives  start  of  black  on  the  tree  and  remain  black  at  full  maturity. 

History 

Olives  have  been  cultivated  in  parts  of  the  Mediterranean — including  Crete  and  Syria — for  at  least  5,000  years.  In  addition, 
there  is  carbon-dating  evidence  of  olive  tree  presence  in  Spain  as  many  as  6,000-8,000  years  ago.  This  ancient  and  legendary 
tree  was  also  native  to  parts  of  Asia  and  Africa. 

It's  not  clear  exactly  how  olive  trees  arrived  in  the  U.S.,  but  it's  clear  that  the  time  frame  was  much  later,  during  the  1500- 
1700's.  Spanish  colonizers  of  North  America  definitely  brought  olive  trees  across  the  Atlantic  Ocean  during  the  1500-1700's, 
and  while  some  may  have  been  brought  directly  to  the  region  which  is  now  California,  olive  trees  may  also  have  been  brought 
to  the  region  from  Mexico,  where  cultivation  by  the  Spanish  was  already  underway. 

Olives  constitute  one  of  the  world's  largest  fruit  crops,  with  more  than  25  million  acres  of  olive  trees  planted  worldwide.  (On  a 
worldwide  basis,  olives  are  produced  in  greater  amounts  than  either  grapes,  apples,  or  oranges.)  Spain  is  the  largest  single 
producer  of  olives  at  approximately  6 million  tons  per  year.  Italy  is  second  at  approximately  3.5  million  tons,  followed  by 
Greece  at  2.5  million.  Turkey  and  Syria  are  the  next  major  olive  producers.  Mediterranean  production  of  olives  currently 
involves  approximately  800  million  trees.  90%  of  all  Mediterranean  olives  are  crushed  for  the  production  of  olive  oil,  with  the 


remaining  10%  kept  in  whole  food  form  for  eating.  In  the  United  States,  California's  Central  Valley  is  the  site  of  most  olive 
production,  on  approximately  27,000  acres. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

While  olives  have  been  traditionally  sold  in  jars  and  cans,  many  stores  are  now  offering  them  in  bulk  in  large  barrels  or  bins 
(often  called  an  "olive  bar").  Buying  bulk  olives  will  allow  you  to  experiment  with  many  different  types  with  which  you  may 
be  unfamiliar  and  to  purchase  only  as  many  as  you  need  at  one  time. 

While  whole  olives  are  very  common,  you  may  also  find  ones  that  have  been  pitted,  as  well  as  olives  that  have  been  stuffed 
with  either  peppers,  garlic  or  almonds.  If  you  purchase  olives  in  bulk,  make  sure  that  the  store  has  a good  turnover  and  keeps 
their  olives  immersed  in  brine  for  freshness  and  to  retain  moistness. 

When  selecting  olives  from  an  olive  bar,  you'll  often  be  faced  with  a wide  variety  of  color  options  and  textures.  It's  not 
uncommon  to  find  color  varieties  of  olives  that  include  green,  yellow-green,  green-gray,  rose,  red-brown,  dark  red,  purplish- 
black  and  black.  It's  also  not  uncommon  to  find  several  different  textures,  including  shiny,  wilted,  or  cracked.  The  size  of 
olives  may  range  from  fairly  small  to  fairly  large  or  jumbo.  Each  of  these  options  among  olive  varieties  can  provide  you  with 
valuable  health  benefits.  In  general,  regardless  of  the  variety  you  choose,  select  olives  that  still  display  a reasonable  about  of 
firmness  and  are  not  overly  soft  or  mushy. 

If  you  are  purchasing  olives  in  a can  and  don't  use  them  immediately  after  opening,  they  can  usually  be  safely  stored  in  sealed 
container  in  your  refrigerator  for  one  to  two  weeks.  Whether  brine-based,  acid-based,  or  water-based,  you  can  transfer  the 
canning  fluid  along  with  the  olives  into  your  sealed  refrigerator  container.  Glass  jars  of  olives  can  be  stored  directly  in  the 
refrigerator  for  the  same  period  of  time,  and  in  the  case  of  some  brine-cured  olives,  for  up  to  one  to  two  months. 

When  selecting  olives,  beware  of  the  label  description,  "hand-picked."  This  description  does  not  necessarily  tell  you  anything 
helpful  about  the  olive  harvesting.  Many  olives  are  hand-picked,  even  though  the  product  label  makes  no  mention  of  this  fact. 
Conversely,  olives  with  have  been  mechanically  harvested  with  a hand-held  pneumatic  rake  are  sometimes  labeled  as  "hand- 
picked." 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Olive  tapenade  is  a delicious  and  easy-to-make  spread  that  you  can  use  as  a dip,  sandwich  spread,  or  topping  for  fish  and 
poultry.  To  make  it,  put  pitted  olives  in  a food  processor  with  olive  oil,  garlic,  and  your  favorite  seasonings. 

• Toss  pasta  with  chopped  olives,  tomatoes,  garlic,  olive  oil  and  fresh  herbs  of  your  choice. 

• Marinate  olives  in  olive  oil,  lemon  zest,  coriander  seeds  and  cumin  seeds. 

• Add  chopped  olives  to  your  favorite  tuna  or  chicken  salad  recipe. 

• Set  out  a small  plate  of  olives  on  the  dinner  table  along  with  some  vegetable  crudites  for  your  family  to  enjoy  with  the 
meal. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Include  Olives 

• 15-Minute  Turkey  Chefs  Salad 

• Greek  Salad 

• Kidney  Bean  Salad  with  Mediterranean  Dressing 

• Mediterranean  Baby  Spinach  Salad 

• Salad  Nicoise 

• Braised  Cod  with  Celery 

• 5 -Minute  Cold  Cucumber  Salad 

• Olive  Tapenade 

• Vegetable  Appetizer  3 

Safety 


Olives  and  Acrylamides 


Research  on  olives  and  their  acrylamide  content  has  shown  some  inconsistency  over  the  past  several  years  and  this 
inconsistency  has  sparked  controversy  in  the  public  press  about  olives  and  their  health  risk  with  respect  to  acrylamide.  In  data 
assembled  by  the  U.S.  Food  and  Drug  Administration  (FDA),  we've  seen  more  than  a dozen  different  kinds  of  olives,  including 
Spanish,  Greek,  Kalamata,  Nolellata,  Sicilian,  d'Abruzzo,  and  Gaeta,  and  di  Cerignola  that  were  determined  to  contain  no 
detectable  level  of  acrylamide.  Yet  we  have  also  seen  FDA  data  showing  levels  of  acrylamide  as  high  as  1,925  ppb  in  some 
canned,  nationally  distributed  brands  of  black  pitted  olives.  Based  on  this  data,  we  suspect  that  these  higher  acrylamide  levels 
in  select  canned  black  olives  were  related  to  specific  handling,  storage,  processing  (especially  preservation  and  darkening 
methods),  and  heating  steps  that  favored  formation  of  acrylamide.  (One  2008  study  from  a research  team  in  Seville,  Spain  has 
also  determined  that  darkening  methods  can  influence  acrylamide  formation,  but  only  within  the  context  of  many  other  factors, 
including  the  variety  of  olive  itself.)  It's  also  important  to  note  here  that  we  are  not  aware  of  any  data  showing  problematic 
levels  of  acrylamide  in  any  extra  virgin  olive  oils  available  in  the  marketplace. 

At  present,  we  are  not  aware  of  any  foolproof  method  that  consumers  can  use  to  avoid  purchase  of  canned  black  olives  that 
contain  unwanted  amounts  of  acrylamide.  Since  the  FDA  data  has  shown  no  detectable  levels  of  acrylamide  in  numerous 
samples  of  imported  olives  packed  in  brine,  those  olives  may  be  worth  considering  as  options  that  may  help  avoid  unwanted 
acrylamide.  As  stated  previously,  extra  virgin  olive  oil  is  another  form  of  this  nutrient-rich  food  that,  to  our  knowledge,  has  not 
been  shown  in  research  to  contain  unwanted  amounts  of  acrylamide. 

For  more  on  acrylamides,  see  our  detailed  write-up  on  the  subject. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Olives,  black,  canned 

1.00  cup  Calories:  155 

134.40  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

cooper 

0.34  mg 

38 

4.4 

very  good 

iron 

4.44  mg 

25 

2.9 

good 

fiber 

4.30  g 

17 

2.0 

good 

vitamin  E 

2.22  mg  (ATE) 

15 

1.7 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRFDV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

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2007  Mar;72(2):C139-43.  2007. 

• Hajimahmoodi  M,  Sadeghi  N,  Jannat  B et  al.  Antioxidant  Activity,  Reducing  Power  and  Total  Phenolic  Content  of 
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• Kountouri  AM,  Kaliora  AC,  Koumbi  L et  al.  In-vitro  gastric  cancer  prevention  by  a polyphenol-rich  extract  from  olives 
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705-714.2010. 

• Malheiro  R,  Sousa  A,  Casal  S et  al.  Cultivar  effect  on  the  phenolic  composition  and  antioxidant  potential  of  stoned  table 
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• Muzzalupo  I,  Stefanizzi  F,  Perri  E et  al.  Transcript  levels  of  CHL  P gene,  antioxidants  and  chlorophylls  contents  in  olive 
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Hum  Nutr.  20 1 1 Mar;66(  1 ) : 1 - 1 0.  20 1 1 . 

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flavonoid  compounds  in  brined  olive  drupes.  Food  Chem  Toxicol  2003  May;  41(5):703-17.  2003. 

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May;54(5):984-93.  Epub  2010  Oct  31.  2011. 

• Raederstorff  D.  Antioxidant  activity  of  olive  polyphenols  in  humans:  a review.  Int  J Vitam  Nutr  Res.  2009 
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• Romeo  FV,  Piscopo  A and  Poiana  M.  Effect  of  acidification  and  salt  concentration  on  two  black  brined  olives  from 
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Onions 


What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Onions 

• The  flavonoids  in  onion  tend  to  be  more  concentrated  in  the  outer  layers  of  the  flesh.  To  maximize  your  health  benefits, 
peel  off  as  little  of  the  fleshy,  edible  portion  as  possible  when  removing  the  onion's  outermost  paper  layer.  Even  a small 
amount  of  "overpeeling"  can  result  in  unwanted  loss  of  flavonoids.  For  example,  a red  onion  can  lose  about  20%  of  its 
quercetin  and  almost  75%  of  its  anthocyanins  if  it  is  "overpeeled." 

• The  total  polyphenol  content  of  onions  is  much  higher  than  many  people  expect.  (Polyphenols  are  one  of  the  largest 
categories  of  phytonutrients  in  food.  This  category  includes  all  flavonoids  as  well  as  tannins.)  The  total  polyphenol 
content  of  onion  is  not  only  higher  than  its  fellow  allium  vegetables,  garlic  and  leeks,  but  also  higher  than  tomatoes, 
carrots,  and  red  bell  pepper.  In  the  French  diet,  only  six  vegetables  (artichoke  heart,  parsley,  Bmssels  sprouts,  shallot, 
broccoli,  and  celery)  have  a higher  polyphenol  content  than  onion.  Since  the  French  diet  has  been  of  special  interest  to 
researchers  in  terms  of  disease  prevention,  onion's  strong  polyphenol  contribution  will  very  likely  lead  to  follow-up 
studies  that  pay  closer  attention  to  this  unique  allium  vegetable. 

• Within  the  polyphenol  category,  onions  are  also  surprisingly  high  in  flavonoids.  For  example,  on  an  ounce-for-ounce 
basis,  onions  rank  in  the  top  10  of  commonly  eaten  vegetables  in  their  quercetin  content.  The  flavonoid  content  of 
onions  can  vary  widely,  depending  on  the  exact  variety  and  growing  conditions.  Although  the  average  onion  is  likely  to 
contain  less  than  100  milligrams  of  quercetin  per  3-1/2  ounces,  some  onions  do  provide  this  amount.  And  while  100 
milligrams  may  not  sound  like  a lot,  in  the  United  States,  moderate  vegetable  eaters  average  only  twice  this  amount  for 
all  flavonoids  (not  just  quercetin)  from  all  vegetables  per  day. 

• When  onions  are  simmered  to  make  soup,  their  quercetin  does  not  get  degraded.  It  simply  gets  transferred  into  the  water 
part  of  the  soup.  By  using  a low-heat  method  for  preparing  onion  soup,  you  can  preserve  the  health  benefits  of  onion  that 
are  associated  with  this  key  flavonoid. 

• When  we  get  quercetin  by  eating  an  onion-rather  than  consuming  the  quercetin  in  purified,  supplement  form-we  may 
end  up  getting  better  protection  from  oxidative  stress.  That's  exactly  what  happened  in  an  animal  study  where  some 
animals  had  yellow  onion  added  to  their  diet  in  a way  that  would  provide  the  same  amount  of  quercetin  provided  to  other 
animals  in  the  form  of  purified  quercetin  extracts.  The  best  protection  came  from  the  onion  version  of  this  flavonoid, 
rather  than  the  supplement  form. 

• Several  servings  of  onion  each  week  are  sufficient  to  statistically  lower  your  risk  of  some  types  of  cancer.  For  colorectal, 
laryngeal,  and  ovarian  cancer,  between  1-7  servings  of  onion  has  been  shown  to  provide  risk  reduction.  But  for 
decreased  risk  of  oral  and  esophageal  cancer,  you'll  need  to  consume  one  onion  serving  per  day  (approximately  1/2  cup). 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

With  their  unique  combination  of  flavonoids  and  sulfur-containing  nutrients,  the  allium  vegetables — such  as  onions — belong  in 
your  diet  on  a regular  basis.  There's  research  evidence  for  including  at  least  one  serving  of  an  allium  vegetable — such  as 
onions — in  your  meal  plan  every  day. 

When  onion  is  your  allium  vegetable  of  choice,  try  to  consume  at  least  one-half  of  a medium  onion  on  that  day,  and  use  this 
guideline  to  adjust  your  recipes  accordingly.  For  example,  if  you  are  following  a recipe  that  yields  4 servings,  include  at  least  2 
medium  onions  in  the  recipe  so  that  each  of  your  4 servings  will  contain  at  least  one  half  medium  onion. 

To  bring  out  the  sweet  flavor  of  onions  we  recommend  using  our  Healthy  Saute  method  of  cooking  onions  for  just  7 minutes. 
Cut  onions  into  slices  of  equal  1 /4-inch  thickness  to  help  them  cook  more  evenly.  The  thinner  you  slice  the  onions  the  more 
quickly  they  will  cook.  Let  them  sit  for  at  least  5 minutes  to  enhance  their  health-promoting  properties.  For  more  details  see 
the  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Onions  in  the  How  to  Enjoy  section  below. 


Onions,  chopped,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(210.00  grams) 

Calories:  92 
GI:  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

biotin 

27% 

manganese 

16% 

copper 

16% 

vitamin  B6 

16% 

vitamin  C 

15% 

fiber 

12% 

phosphorus 

11% 

Dotassium 

10% 

vitamin  B 1 

8% 

folate 

8% 

Health  Benefits 

Onions,  like  garlic,  are  members  of  the  Allium  family,  and  both  are  rich  in  sulfur-containing  compounds  that  are  responsible 
for  their  pungent  odors  and  for  many  of  their  health-promoting  effects.  A wide  variety  of  allyl  sulfides  are  found  in  onion, 
including  the  four  major  diallyl  sulfides:  DMS  (diallyl  monosulfide),  DDS  (diallyl  disulfide),  DTS  (diallyl  trisulfide),  and 
DTTS  (diallyl  tetrasulfide).  Also  present  are  a wide  variety  of  sulfoxides,  including  (+)  S-methyl-L-cysteine  sulfoxide 
(MCSO),  (+)-S-(l-propenyl)-L-cysteine  sulfoxide  (PRENCSO),  S-methyl-l-cysteine  sulfoxide,  S-propyl-l-cysteine  sulfoxide, 
and  S-propenyl-l-cysteine  sulfoxide.  Onions  are  an  outstanding  source  of  polyphenols,  including  the  flavonoid  polyphenols. 
Within  this  flavonoid  category,  onions  are  a standout  source  of  quercetin. 

Cardiovascular  Benefits 

Unlike  the  research  on  garlic  and  its  cardiovascular  benefits,  research  specifically  focused  on  onion  has  mostly  been  conducted 
on  animals  rather  than  humans.  In  animal  studies,  there  is  evidence  that  onion's  sulfur  compounds  may  work  in  an  anti-clotting 
capacity  and  help  prevent  the  unwanted  clumping  together  of  blood  platelet  cells.  There  is  also  evidence  showing  that  sulfur 
compounds  in  onion  can  lower  blood  levels  of  cholesterol  and  triglycerides,  and  also  improve  cell  membrane  function  in  red 
blood  cells. 

In  human  studies,  most  of  the  cardiovascular  benefits  have  been  demonstrated  in  the  form  of  overall  diet.  Multiple  studies 
show  onion  to  be  a food  that  provides  protection  for  the  heart  and  blood  vessels  when  consumed  in  a diet  that  is  rich  in  other 
vegetables  and  fruits — especially  flavonoid-containing  vegetables  and  fruits.  The  benefits  of  onion  in  this  overall  dietary 
context  extend  to  prevention  of  heart  attack.  In  virtually  all  of  these  diet-based  studies,  participants  with  the  greatest  intake  of 
vegetables  (including  onions)  gain  the  most  protection.  The  outstanding  flavonoid  content  of  onions  supports  these  research 
findings.  It's  also  interesting  to  note  that  onion  is  most  commonly  consumed  in  relatively  small  amounts  along  with  other  foods 
rather  than  by  itself.  For  this  reason,  it  can  be  more  difficult  to  study  in  large-scale  dietary  research  studies  that  involve 
thousands  of  participants  and  rely  on  diet  diaries  to  determine  onion  consumption. 

Support  for  Bone  and  Connective  Tissue 

Human  studies  have  shown  that  onion  can  help  increase  our  bone  density  and  may  be  of  special  benefit  to  women  of 
menopausal  age  who  are  experiencing  loss  of  bone  density.  In  addition,  there  is  evidence  that  women  who  have  passed  the  age 
of  menopause  may  be  able  to  lower  their  risk  of  hip  fracture  through  frequent  consumption  of  onions.  "Frequent"  in  this 
context  means  onion  consumption  on  a daily  basis!  In  this  research  on  bone  density  in  older  women,  very  sporadic  eating  of 
onion  (once  a month  or  less)  did  not  provide  much  benefit.  That  finding,  of  course,  was  very  expected.  But  less  expected  was 
the  finding  that  it  took  daily  consumption  of  onion  to  show  robust  benefits  for  bone  density.  Just  as  in  the  cancer-related  onion 
research,  the  take-away  message  here  is  clear:  you  don't  want  to  skimp  on  onions  when  you  are  incorporating  them  into  your 
meal  plan. 

In  and  of  itself,  the  high  sulfur  content  of  onions  may  provide  direct  benefits  to  our  connective  tissue.  Many  of  our  connective 
tissue  components  require  sulfur  for  their  formation.  For  example,  with  the  exception  of  hyaluronic  acid,  all 
glycosaminoglycans  (GAGS)  are  sulfated.  (GAGS  are  the  premiere  family  of  molecules  found  in  the  ground  substance  of  our 
connective  tissue.) 

Anti-Inflammatory  Benefits 

While  onion  is  not  as  well  researched  as  garlic  in  terms  of  specific  inflammatory  health  problems  like  rheumatoid  arthritis  or 
allergic  airway  inflammation,  this  allium  vegetable  has  nevertheless  been  shown  to  provide  important  anti-inflammatory 
benefits.  Onionin  A — a unique  sulfur  molecule  in  onion  that  is  found  in  the  bulb  portion  of  the  plant — has  been  shown  to 
inhibit  the  activity  of  macrophages,  specialized  white  blood  cells  that  play  a key  role  in  our  body's  immune  defense  system, 
and  one  of  their  defense  activities  involves  the  triggering  of  large-scale  inflammatory  responses.  While  macrophage  activity  is 
typically  a good  thing,  inhibition  of  their  activity  can  sometimes  be  critical  in  getting  chronic  unwanted  inflammation  under 
control. 


Onion's  antioxidants — including  its  hallmark  flavonoid  antioxidant,  quercetin — also  provide  us  with  anti-inflammatory 
benefits.  These  antioxidants  help  prevent  the  oxidation  of  fatty  acids  in  our  body.  When  we  have  lower  levels  of  oxidized  fatty 
acids,  our  body  produces  fewer  pro-inflammatory  messaging  molecules,  and  our  level  of  inflammation  is  kept  in  check. 

Cancer  Protection 

Onion  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  lower  our  risk  of  several  cancers,  even  when  we  consume  it  in  only  moderate  amounts. 
"Moderate"  generally  means  1-2  times  per  week,  even  though  in  some  studies  it  has  been  used  to  mean  up  to  5-6  times  per 
week.  Colorectal  cancer,  laryngeal  cancer,  and  ovarian  cancer  are  the  cancer  types  for  which  risk  is  reduced  along  with 
moderate  amounts  of  dietary  onion.  For  other  cancer  types,  however,  moderate  intake  of  onion  has  not  been  enough  to  show 
significant  risk  reduction.  For  these  cancer  types — including  esophageal  cancer  and  cancers  of  the  mouth — daily  intake  of 
onion  is  required  before  research  results  show  significant  risk  reduction. 

Many  factors  may  play  a role  in  these  different  research  findings  for  different  cancer  types.  However,  the  overall  take-away 
from  this  research  seems  clear:  you  do  not  want  to  err  on  the  side  of  small  onion  servings  or  infrequent  onion  intake  if  you 
want  to  obtain  the  full  cancer-related  benefits  of  onion.  A few  slivers  of  sliced  onion  on  a tossed  salad  are  a good  thing — but 
probably  not  enough  to  provide  you  with  the  cancer-related  onion  benefits  that  you  are  seeking.  In  recipes  that  already  call  for 
onion,  try  to  include  at  least  1 whole  onion  (medium  size)  in  the  recipe.  In  recipes  that  do  not  already  call  for  onion,  consider 
the  addition  of  1 medium  size  onion  (if  you  think  onion  might  fit  into  the  recipe  and  still  provide  a tasty  outcome).  In  terms  of 
individual  portion  sizes  when  you  sit  down  to  eat  a meal,  try  to  consume  the  equivalent  of  1/2  onion. 

Other  Health  Benefits 

In  animal  studies,  onions  have  shown  potential  for  improvement  of  blood  sugar  balance,  even  though  it  is  not  yet  clear  about 
the  carry  over  of  these  benefits  for  humans  who  are  seeking  better  blood  sugar  balance  from  their  diet.  Most  of  the  animal 
studies  have  been  conducted  on  rats,  and  most  have  used  onion  juice  or  onion  extract  as  the  form  of  onion  tested.  Future 
research  is  needed  to  clarify  onion's  potential  for  helping  lower  blood  sugar  and  improving  blood  sugar  control,  especially  in 
persons  with  blood  sugar  problems. 

While  not  as  well  researched  as  garlic  in  terms  of  antibacterial  benefits,  onion  has  nevertheless  been  shown  to  help  prevent 
bacterial  infection.  Along  with  its  sulfur-containing  compounds,  the  flavonoid  quercetin  contained  in  onion  helps  provide  these 
antibacterial  benefits.  We've  seen  studies  showing  antibacterial  activity  of  onion  in  relationship  to  the  bacteria  Streptococcus 
mutans  and  Streptococcus  sobrinus.  (These  bacteria  are  commonly  involved  in  the  production  of  tooth  cavities).  Antibacterial 
benefits  have  also  been  shown  in  the  area  of  gum  (periodontal)  disease  bacteria,  including  Porphyromonas  gingivalis  and 
Prevotella  intermedia.  Interestingly,  in  one  study,  fresh,  chopped,  uncooked  onion  had  antibacterial  effects  on  these  potentially 
unwanted  gum  bacteria,  but  non- fresh,  uncooked  onion  (raw  onion  that  was  chopped  and  then  left  to  sit  for  2 days  at  room 
temperature)  did  not  demonstrate  these  same  antibacterial  properties  nor  did  fresh  onion  that  was  grated  and  then  steamed  for 
10  minutes.  While  it  is  not  possible  to  draw  broad  conclusions  from  a single  lab  study,  these  findings  suggest  that  length  of 
storage  (for  onion  that  has  been  chopped  but  not  cooked)  and  duration  of  heat  exposure  (in  this  case  involving  exposure  to 
steam  for  10  full  minutes)  can  affect  some  of  onion's  health  benefits.  For  these  reasons,  special  care  may  be  needed  in  the 
storage,  handling,  and  cooking  of  this  allium  vegetable. 

Description 

What  would  a kitchen  be  without  the  distinctively  pungent  smell  and  taste  of  onions  filling  out  the  flavors  of  almost  every  type 
of  cuisine  imaginable?  Fortunately,  yellow  storage  onions  are  available  throughout  the  year  although  sweet  varieties  have  a 
much  more  limited  growing  season  and  are  available  only  a few  months  out  of  the  year. 

While  onions  may  bring  a tear  to  your  eye  and  a pungency  to  your  breath  they  will  also  certainly  bring  delight  to  your  taste 
buds.  The  onion,  known  scientifically  as  Allium  cepa,  is,  on  the  surface,  a humble  brown,  white  or  red,  paper-thin  skinned 
bulb;  yet,  despite  its  plain  looks,  it  has  an  intense  flavor  and  is  a beloved  part  of  the  cuisine  of  almost  every  region  of  the 
world. 

The  word  onion  comes  from  the  Latin  word  unio,  which  means  "single,"  or  "one" — reflecting  of  the  onion  plant  producing  a 
single  bulb,  unlike  its  cousin,  the  garlic,  that  produces  many  small  bulbs.  The  name  also  describes  the  onion  bulb  when  cut 
down  the  middle;  it  is  a union  (also  from  unio ) of  many  separate,  concentrically  arranged  layers. 

Onions  range  in  size,  color,  and  taste  depending  upon  their  variety.  There  are  generally  two  types  of  large,  globe-shaped 
onions,  classified  as  spring/summer  or  storage  onions.  The  former  class  includes  those  that  are  grown  in  warm  weather 
climates  and  have  characteristic  mild  or  sweet  tastes.  Included  in  this  group  are  the  Maui  Sweet  Onion  (in  season  April  through 


June),  Vidalia  (in  season  May  through  June)  and  Walla  Walla  (in  season  July  and  August).  Storage  onions  are  grown  in  colder 
weather  climates  and,  after  harvesting,  are  dried  out  for  a period  of  several  months,  which  allows  them  to  attain  dry,  crisp 
skins.  They  generally  have  a more  pungent  flavor  and  are  usually  named  by  their  color:  white,  yellow  or  red.  Spanish  onions 
fall  into  this  classification.  In  addition  to  these  large  onions,  there  are  also  smaller  varieties  such  as  the  green  onion,  or  scallion, 
and  the  pearl  onion. 

Onions  are  a major  source  of  polyphenols  in  general,  and  also  of  flavonoids  (a  very  important  subdivision  of  polyphenols). 
They  can  also  vary  greatly  in  their  polyphenol  and  flavonoid  content.  In  general,  red  onions  are  higher  in  total  flavonoids  than 
white  onions,  (with  yellow  onions  falling  somewhere  in  between). 

History 

Onions  are  native  to  Asia  and  the  Middle  East  and  have  been  cultivated  for  over  five  thousand  years.  Onions  were  highly 
regarded  by  the  Egyptians.  Not  only  did  they  use  them  as  currency  to  pay  the  workers  who  built  the  pyramids,  but  they  also 
placed  them  in  the  tombs  of  kings,  such  as  Tutankhamen,  so  that  they  could  carry  these  gifts  bestowed  with  spiritual 
significance  with  them  to  the  afterlife. 

Onions  have  been  revered  throughout  time  not  only  for  their  culinary  use,  but  also  for  their  therapeutic  properties.  As  early  as 
the  6th  century,  onions  were  used  as  a medicine  in  India.  While  they  were  popular  with  the  ancient  Greeks  and  Romans,  they 
were  oftentimes  dressed  with  extra  seasonings  since  many  people  did  not  find  them  spicy  enough.  Yet,  it  was  their  pungency 
that  made  onions  popular  among  poor  people  throughout  the  world  who  could  freely  use  this  inexpensive  vegetable  to  spark  up 
their  meals.  Onions  were  an  indispensable  vegetable  in  the  cuisines  of  many  European  countries  during  the  Middle  Ages  and 
later  even  served  as  a classic  healthy  breakfast  food.  Christopher  Columbus  brought  onions  to  the  West  Indies;  their  cultivation 
spread  from  there  throughout  the  Western  Hemisphere.  Today  China,  India,  the  United  States,  Russian,  and  Spain  are  among 
the  leading  producers  of  onions. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Choose  onions  that  are  clean,  well  shaped,  have  no  opening  at  the  neck,  and  feature  crisp,  dry  outer  skins.  Avoid  those  that  are 
sprouting  or  have  signs  of  mold.  In  addition,  onions  of  inferior  quality  often  have  soft  spots,  moisture  at  their  neck,  and  dark 
patches,  which  may  all  be  indications  of  decay.  As  conventionally  grown  onions  are  often  irradiated  to  prevent  them  from 
sprouting,  purchase  organically  grown  varieties  whenever  possible  to  avoid  onions  that  have  undergone  this  process.  When 
purchasing  scallions,  look  for  those  that  have  green,  fresh-looking  tops  that  appear  crisp  yet  tender.  The  base  should  be  whitish 
in  color  for  two  or  three  inches.  Avoid  those  that  have  wilted  or  yellowed  tops. 

Onions  should  be  stored  in  a well  ventilated  space  at  room  temperature,  away  from  heat  and  bright  light.  With  the  exception  of 
green  onions,  do  not  refrigerate  onions.  Place  them  in  a wire  hanging  basket  or  a perforated  bowl  with  a raised  base  so  that  air 
can  circulate  underneath.  The  length  of  storage  varies  with  the  type  of  onion.  Those  that  are  more  pungent  in  flavor,  such  as 
yellow  onions,  should  keep  for  about  a month  if  stored  properly.  They  will  keep  longer  than  those  with  a sweeter  taste,  such  as 
white  onions,  since  the  compounds  that  confer  their  sharp  taste  help  to  preserve  them.  Scallions  should  be  stored  in  a plastic 
bag  in  the  refrigerator  where  they  will  keep  for  about  one  week.  All  onions  should  be  stored  away  from  potatoes,  as  they  will 
absorb  their  moisture  and  ethylene  gas,  causing  them  to  spoil  more  readily. 

Store  cut  onions  by  placing  in  a sealed  container;  use  them  within  a day  or  two  since  they  tend  to  oxidize  and  lose  their  nutrient 
content  rather  quickly.  Cooked  onions  will  best  maintain  their  taste  in  an  airtight  container  where  they  can  be  kept  for  a few 
days;  they  should  never  be  placed  in  a metal  storage  container  as  this  may  cause  them  to  discolor.  Although  peeled  and 
chopped  onions  can  be  frozen  (without  first  being  blanched),  this  process  will  cause  them  to  lose  some  of  their  flavor. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Combine  chopped  onions,  tomatoes,  avocado,  and  jalapeno  for  an  all-in-one  guacamole  salsa  dip. 

• To  perk  up  plain  rice,  top  with  green  onions  (scallions)  and  sesame  seeds. 

• Healthy  Sauteed  chopped  onions  can  enhance  the  flavor  or  almost  any  vegetable  dish. 

• Enjoy  a classic  Italian  salad — sliced  onions,  tomatoes,  and  mozzarella  cheese  drizzled  with  olive  oil. 


WHFoods  Recipes  that  Feature  Onions 


5 Spice  Onion  Soup 

7-Minute  Healthy  Sauteed  Onions 


Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Onions,  chopped,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  92 

210.00  grams  GI:  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

biotin 

7.98  meg 

27 

5.2 

very  good 

mansanese 

0.32  mg 

16 

3.1 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.27  mg 

16 

3.1 

good 

copper 

0.14  mg 

16 

3.0 

good 

vitamin  C 

10.92  mg 

15 

2.8 

good 

fiber 

2.94  g 

12 

2.3 

good 

phosphorus 

73.50  mg 

11 

2.0 

good 

potassium 

348.60  mg 

10 

1.9 

good 

folate 

31.50  meg 

8 

1.5 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.09  mg 

8 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/D V>=  10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Ali  M,  Thomson  M,  Afzal  M.  Garlic  and  onions:  their  effect  on  eicosanoid  metabolism  and  its  clinical  relevance. 
Prostaglandins  Leukot  Essent  Fatty  Acids.  2000  Feb;62(2):55-73.  Review.  2000. 

• Azuma  K,  Minami  Y,  Ippoushi  K et  al.  Lowering  effects  of  onion  intake  on  oxidative  stress  biomarkers  in 
streptozotocin-induced  diabetic  rats.  J Clin  Biochem  Nutr.  2007  Mar;40(2):  13 1-40.  2007. 

• Borjihan  B,  Ogita  A,  Fujita  KI  et  al.  The  Cyclic  Organosulfur  Compound  Zwiebelane  A from  Onion  (Allium  cepa) 
Functions  as  an  Enhancer  of  Polymyxin  B in  Fungal  Vacuole  Dismption.  Planta  Med.  2010  May  19.  [Epub  ahead  of 
print],  2010. 

• Brat  P,  George  S,  Bellamy  A,  et  al.  Daily  Polyphenol  Intake  in  France  from  Fmit  and  Vegetables.  J.  Nutr.  136:2368- 
2373,  September  2006.  2006. 

• Chun  OK,  Chung  SJ,  and  Song  WO.  Estimated  dietary  flavonoid  intake  and  major  food  sources  of  U.S.  adults.  J Nutr. 
2007  May;137(5):1244-52.  2007. 

• Dorant  E,  van  den  Brandt  PA,  Goldbohm  RA.  A prospective  cohort  study  on  the  relationship  between  onion  and  leek 
consumption,  garlic  supplement  use  and  the  risk  of  colorectal  carcinoma  in  The  Netherlands.  Carcinogenesis  1996 


Mar;17(3):477-84.  1996.  PMID:13660. 

• Eady  CC,  Kamoi  T,  Kato  M et  al.  Silencing  onion  lachrymatory  factor  synthase  causes  a significant  change  in  the  sulfur 
secondary  metabolite  profile.  Plant  Physiol.  2008  Aug;147(4):2096-106.  2008. 

• El-Aasr  M,  Fujiwara  Y,  Takeya  M et  al.  Onionin  A from  Allium  cepa  inhibits  macrophage  activation.  J Nat  Prod.  2010 
Jul  23;73(7):  1306-8.  2010. 

• Fukushima  S,  Takada  N,  Hori  T,  Wanibuchi  H.  Cancer  prevention  by  organosulfur  compounds  from  garlic  and  onion.  J 
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Potatoes 


About  Potatoes 

Whether  mashed,  baked  or  roasted,  people  often  consider  potatoes  as  comfort  food.  It  is  an  important  food  staple  and  the 
number  one  vegetable  crop  in  the  world.  Potatoes  are  available  year-round  as  they  are  harvested  somewhere  every  month  of 
the  year. 

The  potato  belongs  to  the  Solanaceae  or  nightshade  family  whose  other  members  include  tomatoes,  eggplants,  peppers,  and 
tomatillos.  They  are  the  swollen  portion  of  the  underground  stem  which  is  called  a tuber  and  is  designed  to  provide  food  for  the 
green  leafy  portion  of  the  plant.  If  allowed  to  flower  and  fruit,  the  potato  plant  will  bear  an  inedible  fruit  resembling  a tomato. 


Potatoes,  baked 
1.00  cup 
(173.00  grams) 

Calories:  161 

Cl:  high 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  B6 

32% 

^ ■ 

potassium 

26% 

copper 

22% 

vitamin  C 

22% 

manganese 

19% 

m 

phosphorus 

17% 

fiber 

15% 

■ 

vitamin  B3 

15% 

■ 

pantothenic  acid 

13% 

Health  Benefits 

Potatoes  are  a very  popular  food  source.  Unfortunately,  most  people  eat  potatoes  in  the  form  of  greasy  French  fries  or  potato 
chips,  and  even  baked  potatoes  are  typically  loaded  down  with  fats  such  as  butter,  sour  cream,  melted  cheese  and  bacon  bits. 
Such  treatment  can  make  even  baked  potatoes  a potential  contributor  to  a heart  attack.  But  take  away  the  extra  fat  and  deep 
frying,  and  a baked  potato  is  an  exceptionally  healthful  low  calorie,  high  fiber  food  that  offers  significant  protection  against 
cardiovascular  disease  and  cancer. 

Our  food  ranking  system  qualified  potatoes  as  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  B6  and  a good  source  of  potassium,  copper, 
vitamin  C,  manganese,  phosphorus,  niacin,  dietary  fiber,  and  pantothenic  acid. 

Potatoes  also  contain  a variety  of  phytonutrients  that  have  antioxidant  activity.  Among  these  important  health-promoting 
compounds  are  carotenoids,  flavonoids,  and  caffeic  acid,  as  well  as  unique  tuber  storage  proteins,  such  as  patatin,  which 
exhibit  activity  against  free  radicals. 

Blood-Pressure  Lowering  Potential 

UK  scientists  at  the  Institute  for  Food  Research  have  identified  blood  pressure-lowering  compounds  called  kukoamines  in 
potatoes.  Previously  only  found  in  Lycium  chinense,  an  exotic  herbal  plant  whose  bark  is  used  to  make  an  infusion  in  Chinese 
herbal  medicine,  kukoamines  were  found  in  potatoes  using  a new  type  of  research  called  metabolomics. 

Until  now,  when  analyzing  a plant's  composition,  scientists  had  to  know  what  they  were  seeking  and  could  typically  look  for 
30  or  so  known  compounds.  Now,  metabolomic  techniques  enable  researchers  to  find  the  unexpected  by  analyzing  the  100s  or 
even  1 000s  of  small  molecules  produced  by  an  organism. 

"Potatoes  have  been  cultivated  for  thousands  of  years,  and  we  thought  traditional  crops  were  pretty  well  understood,"  said  IFR 
food  scientist  Dr  Fred  Mellon,  "but  this  surprise  finding  shows  that  even  the  most  familiar  of  foods  might  conceal  a hoard  of 
health-promoting  chemicals."  Another  good  reason  to  center  your  diet  around  the  World's  Healthiest  Foods! 

In  addition  to  potatoes,  researchers  looked  at  tomatoes  since  they  belong  to  the  same  plant  family — Solanaceae — as  Lycium 
chinense.  Metabolomic  assays  also  detected  kukoamine  compounds  in  tomatoes. 


The  IFR  scientists  found  higher  levels  of  kukoamines  and  related  compounds  than  some  of  the  other  compounds  in  potatoes 
that  have  a long  history  of  scientific  investigation.  However,  because  they  were  previously  only  noted  in  Lycium  chinense, 
kukoamines  have  been  little  studied.  Researchers  are  now  determining  their  stability  during  cooking  and  dose  response  (how 
much  of  these  compounds  are  needed  to  impact  health). 

Vitamin  B6 — Building  Your  Cells 

If  only  for  its  high  concentration  of  vitamin  B6 — 1 medium  potato  contains  over  one-half  of  a milligram  of  this  important 
nutrient — the  potato  earns  high  marks  as  a health-promoting  food. 

Vitamin  B6  is  involved  in  more  than  100  enzymatic  reactions.  Enzymes  are  proteins  that  help  chemical  reactions  take  place,  so 
vitamin  B6  is  active  virtually  everywhere  in  the  body.  Many  of  the  building  blocks  of  protein,  amino  acids,  require  B6  for  their 
synthesis,  as  do  the  nucleic  acids  used  in  the  creation  of  our  DNA.  Because  amino  and  nucleic  acids  are  such  critical  parts  of 
new  cell  formation,  vitamin  B6  is  essential  for  the  formation  of  virtually  all  new  cells  in  the  body.  Heme  (the  protein  center  of 
our  red  blood  cells)  and  phospholipids  (cell  membrane  components  that  enable  messaging  between  cells)  also  depend  on 
vitamin  B6  for  their  creation. 

Vitamin  B6 — Brain  Cell  and  Nervous  System  Activity 

Vitamin  B6  plays  numerous  roles  in  our  nervous  system,  many  of  which  involve  neurological  (brain  cell)  activity.  B6  is 
necessary  for  the  creation  of  amines,  a type  of  messaging  molecule  or  neurotransmitter  that  the  nervous  system  relies  on  to 
transmit  messages  from  one  nerve  to  the  next.  Some  of  the  amine-derived  neurotransmitters  that  require  vitamin  B6  for  their 
production  are  serotonin,  a lack  of  which  is  linked  to  depression;  melatonin,  the  hormone  needed  for  a good  night's  sleep; 
epinephrine  and  norepinephrine,  hormones  that  help  us  respond  to  stress;  and  GABA,  which  is  needed  for  normal  brain 
function. 

Vitamin  B6 — Cardiovascular  Protection 

Vitamin  B6  plays  another  critically  important  role  in  methylation,  a chemical  process  in  which  methyl  groups  are  transferred 
from  one  molecule  to  another.  Many  essential  chemical  events  in  the  body  are  made  possible  by  methylation,  for  example, 
genes  can  be  switched  on  and  turned  off  in  this  way.  This  is  particularly  important  in  cancer  prevention  since  one  of  the  genes 
that  can  be  switched  on  and  off  is  the  tumor  suppressor  gene,  p53.  Another  way  that  methylation  helps  prevent  cancer  is  by 
attaching  methyl  groups  to  toxic  substances  to  make  them  less  toxic  and  encourage  their  elimination  from  the  body. 

Methylation  is  also  important  to  cardiovascular  health.  Methylation  changes  a potentially  dangerous  molecule  called 
homocysteine  into  other,  benign  substances.  Since  homocysteine  can  directly  damage  blood  vessel  walls  greatly  increasing  the 
progression  of  atherosclerosis,  high  homocysteine  levels  are  associated  with  a significantly  increased  risk  for  heart  attack  and 
stroke.  Eating  foods  rich  in  vitamin  B6  can  help  keep  homocysteine  levels  low.  In  addition,  diets  high  in  vitamin  B6-rich  foods 
are  associated  with  overall  lower  rates  of  heart  disease,  even  when  homocysteine  levels  are  normal,  most  likely  because  of  all 
the  other  beneficial  activities  of  this  energetic  B vitamin. 

A single  baked  potato  will  also  provide  you  with  over  3 grams  of  fiber,  but  remember  the  fiber  in  potatoes  is  mostly  in  their 
skin.  If  you  want  the  cholesterol-lowering,  colon  cancer  preventing,  and  bowel  supportive  effects  of  fiber,  be  sure  to  eat  the 
potato's  flavorful  skin  as  well  as  its  creamy  center. 

Vitamin  B6 — Athletic  Performance 

Vitamin  B6  is  also  necessary  for  the  breakdown  of  glycogen,  the  form  in  which  sugar  is  stored  in  our  muscle  cells  and  liver,  so 
this  vitamin  is  a key  player  in  athletic  performance  and  endurance. 

Description 

Whether  it  is  mashed,  baked  or  made  into  French  fries,  many  people  often  think  of  the  potato  as  a comfort  food.  This  sentiment 
probably  inspired  the  potato's  scientific  name,  Solarium  tuberosum,  since  solatium  is  derived  from  a Latin  word  meaning 
"soothing".  The  potato's  name  also  reflects  that  it  belongs  to  the  Solanaceae  family  whose  other  members  include  tomatoes, 
eggplants,  peppers,  and  tomatillos. 

There  are  about  about  100  varieties  of  edible  potatoes.  They  range  in  size,  shape,  color,  starch  content  and  flavor.  They  are 
often  classified  as  either  mature  potatoes  (the  large  potatoes  that  we  are  generally  familiar  with)  and  new  potatoes  (those  that 


are  harvested  before  maturity  and  are  of  a much  smaller  size).  Some  of  the  popular  varieties  of  mature  potatoes  include  the 
Russet  Burbank,  the  White  Rose  and  the  Katahdin,  while  the  Red  LeSoda  and  Red  Pontiac  are  two  types  of  new  potatoes. 
There  are  also  delicate  fingerling  varieties  available  which,  as  their  name  suggests,  are  finger-shaped. 

The  skin  of  potatoes  is  generally  brown,  red  or  yellow,  and  may  be  smooth  or  rough,  while  the  flesh  is  yellow  or  white.  There 
are  also  other  varieties  available  that  feature  purple-grey  skin  and  a beautiful  deep  violet  flesh. 

As  potatoes  have  a neutral  starchy  flavor,  they  serve  as  a good  complement  to  many  meals.  Their  texture  varies  slightly 
depending  upon  their  preparation,  but  it  can  be  generally  described  as  rich  and  creamy. 

History 

Potatoes  originated  in  the  Andean  mountain  region  of  South  America.  Researchers  estimate  that  potatoes  have  been  cultivated 
by  the  Indians  living  in  these  areas  for  between  4,000  and  7,000  years.  Unlike  many  other  foods,  potatoes  were  able  to  be 
grown  at  the  high  altitudes  typical  of  this  area  and  therefore  became  a staple  food  for  these  hardy  people. 

Potatoes  were  brought  to  Europe  by  Spanish  explorers  who  "discovered"  them  in  South  America  in  the  early  16th  century. 
Since  potatoes  are  good  sources  of  vitamin  C,  they  were  subsequently  used  on  Spanish  ships  to  prevent  scurvy.  They  were 
introduced  into  Europe  via  Spain,  and  while  they  were  consumed  by  some  people  in  Italy  and  Germany,  they  were  not  widely 
consumed  throughout  Europe,  even  though  many  governments  actively  promoted  this  nutritious  foodstuff  that  was  relatively 
inexpensive  to  produce.  The  reason  for  this  is  that  since  people  knew  that  the  potato  is  related  to  the  nightshade  family,  many 
felt  that  it  was  poisonous  like  some  other  members  of  this  family.  In  addition,  many  judged  potatoes  with  suspicion  since  they 
were  not  mentioned  in  the  Bible.  In  fact,  potatoes  initially  had  such  a poor  reputation  in  Europe  that  many  people  thought 
eating  them  would  cause  leprosy. 

Some  of  the  credit  for  the  rise  in  potatoes'  popularity  is  given  to  two  individuals  who  creatively  engineered  plans  to  create 
demand  for  the  potato.  In  the  1 8th  century,  a French  agronomist  named  Parmentier  created  a scheme  whereby  peasants  could 
"steal"  potatoes  from  the  King's  "guarded"  gardens.  He  also  developed  and  popularized  the  mashed  potato  that  became  popular 
probably  because  he  made  this  suspicious  vegetable  unrecognizable.  Another  person  who  was  instrumental  to  the  acceptance 
of  potatoes  was  Count  Rumford.  A member  of  the  British  scientific  group,  the  Royal  Society,  Rumford  created  a mush  soup 
made  of  potatoes,  barley,  peas  and  vinegar,  which  the  German  peasants  adopted  as  a satisfying  and  inexpensive  dish. 

It  is  thought  that  the  potato  was  first  brought  to  the  United  States  in  the  early  1 8th  century  by  Irish  immigrants  who  settled  in 
New  England.  People  in  this  country  were  slow  to  adopt  the  "Irish  potato"  and  large  scale  cultivation  of  potatoes  did  not  occur 
in  the  U.S.  until  the  19th  century. 

There  are  not  that  many  foods  that  can  claim  that  a pivotal  historical  event  centered  around  them.  But  the  potato  can.  By  the 
early  19th  century,  potatoes  were  being  grown  extensively  throughout  Northern  Europe,  and  potatoes  were  almost  solely  relied 
upon  as  a foodstuff  in  Ireland  owing  to  this  vegetable's  inexpensive  production  and  the  poor  economy  of  this  country.  Yet,  in 
1845  and  1846,  a blight  ruined  most  of  the  potato  crop  in  Ireland  and  caused  major  devastation:  this  event  is  known  as  the  Irish 
Potato  Famine.  Almost  three-quarters  of  a million  people  died,  and  hundreds  of  thousands  emigrated  to  other  countries, 
including  the  United  States,  in  search  of  sustenance. 

Today,  this  once-infamous  vegetable  is  one  of  the  most  popular  throughout  the  world  and  the  one  that  Americans  consume 
more  of  pound  for  pound  than  any  other.  Currently,  the  main  producers  of  potatoes  include  the  Russian  Federation,  Poland, 
India,  China  and  the  United  States. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

While  potatoes  are  often  conveniently  packaged  in  a plastic  bag,  it  is  usually  better  to  buy  them  individually  from  a bulk 
display.  Not  only  will  this  allow  you  to  better  inspect  the  potatoes  for  signs  of  decay  or  damage,  but  many  times,  the  plastic 
bags  are  not  perforated  and  cause  a build  up  of  moisture  that  can  negatively  affect  the  potatoes. 

Potatoes  should  be  firm,  well  shaped  and  relatively  smooth,  and  should  be  free  of  decay  that  often  manifests  as  wet  or  dry  rot. 
In  addition,  they  should  not  be  sprouting  or  have  green  coloration  since  this  indicates  that  they  may  contain  the  toxic  alkaloid 
solanine  that  has  been  found  to  not  only  impart  an  undesirable  taste,  but  can  also  cause  a host  of  different  health  conditions 
such  as  circulatory  and  respiratory  depression,  headaches  and  diarrhea. 

Sometimes  stores  will  offer  already  cleaned  potatoes.  These  should  be  avoided  since  when  their  protective  coating  is  removed 
by  washing,  potatoes  are  more  vulnerable  to  bacteria.  In  addition,  already  cleaned  potatoes  are  also  more  expensive,  and  since 


you  will  have  to  wash  them  again  before  cooking,  you  will  be  paying  an  unnecessary  additional  cost. 

Since  new  potatoes  are  harvested  before  they  are  fully  mature,  they  are  much  more  susceptible  to  damage.  Be  especially 
careful  when  purchasing  these  to  buy  ones  that  are  free  from  discoloration  and  injury. 

The  ideal  way  to  store  potatoes  is  in  a dark,  dry  place  between  45F  to  50F  (between  7- IOC)  as  higher  temperatures,  even  room 
temperature,  will  cause  the  potatoes  to  sprout  and  dehydrate  prematurely.  While  most  people  do  not  have  root  cellars  that 
provide  this  type  of  environment,  to  maximize  the  potato's  quality  and  storage,  you  should  aim  to  find  a place  as  close  as 
possible  to  these  conditions.  Storing  them  in  a cool,  dark  closet  or  basement  may  be  suitable  alternatives.  Potatoes  should 
definitely  not  be  exposed  to  sunlight  as  this  can  cause  the  development  of  the  toxic  alkaloid  solanine  to  form. 

Potatoes  should  not  be  stored  in  the  refrigerator,  as  their  starch  content  will  turn  to  sugar  giving  them  an  undesirable  taste.  In 
addition,  do  not  store  potatoes  near  onions,  as  the  gases  that  they  each  emit  will  cause  the  degradation  of  one  another. 
Wherever  you  store  them,  they  should  be  kept  in  a burlap  or  paper  bag. 

Mature  potatoes  stored  properly  can  keep  up  to  two  months.  Check  on  the  potatoes  frequently,  removing  any  that  have 
sprouted  or  shriveled  as  spoiled  ones  can  quickly  affect  the  quality  of  the  others.  New  potatoes  are  much  more  perishable  and 
will  only  keep  for  one  week. 

Cooked  potatoes  will  keep  fresh  in  the  refrigerator  for  several  days.  Potatoes  do  not  freeze  well. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Puree  roasted  garlic,  cooked  potatoes  and  olive  oil  together  to  make  delicious  garlic  mashed  potatoes.  Season  to  taste. 

• Potatoes  are  a featured  ingredient  in  the  classic  dish,  Salad  Nicoise,  that  pairs  new  potatoes  with  chunks  of  tuna  fish  and 
steamed  green  beans  dressed  lightly  with  oil  and  vinegar. 

• Toss  steamed,  diced  potato  with  olive  oil  and  fresh  herbs  of  your  choice. 

For  some  of  our  favorite  recipes,  click  Recipes. 

Safety 

Potatoes  Belong  to  the  Nightshade  Family 

Potatoes  are  one  of  the  vegetables  that  belong  to  the  nightshade  (Solanaceae)  family.  For  helpful  information  about  nightshade 
vegetables — including  our  WHFoods  Recommendations — please  see  our  article,  Which  foods  are  classified  as  "nightshades." 
and  is  it  true  that  foods  from  this  group  can  potentially  contain  problematic  substances? 

Processed  Potato  Products  and  Acrylamides 

Regularly  cooked  potatoes  are  not  a concern  when  it  comes  to  acrylamide,  a potentially  toxic  and  potentially  cancer-causing 
substance.  Yet,  fried,  processed  foods  made  with  potatoes — such  as  potato  chips  and  french  fries — are  considered  among  the 
highest  risk  of  foods  when  it  comes  to  acrylamide  exposure.  This  is  yet  another  reason  to  avoid  or  minimize  your  intake  of 
these  foods.  For  more  on  acrylamides,  see  our  detailed  write-up  on  the  subject. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


1 


Potatoes,  baked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  161 

173.00  grams  GI:  high 


Nutrient 

Amount 

DRI/DV 

(%) 

Nutrient 

Density 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

vitamin  B6 

0.54  mg 

32 

3.6 

very  good 

DOtassium 

925.55  mg 

26 

3.0 

good 

Conner 

0.20  mg 

22 

2.5 

good 

vitamin  C 

16.61  mg 

22 

2.5 

good 

maneanese 

0.38  mg 

19 

2.1 

good 

nhosphoms 

121.10  mg 

17 

1.9 

good 

vitamin  B3 

2.44  mg 

15 

1.7 

good 

fiber 

3.81  g 

15 

1.7 

good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.65  mg 

13 

1.5 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Agricultural  Research  Service.  "Phytochemical  Profilers  Investigate  Potato  Benefits,".  ."Agricultural  Research. 
September  2007.  2007. 

• Breithaupt  DE,  Bamedi  A.  Carotenoids  and  carotenoid  esters  in  potatoes  (Solanum  tuberosum  L.):  new  insights  into  an 
ancient  vegetable.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2002  Nov  20;50(24):7 175-81.  2002. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Ensminger,  ME,  Kondale  JE,  Robson  JRK.  Foods  & Nutriton  Encyclopedia.  Pegus  Press,  Clovis, 
California.  1983. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Esminger  M.  K.  J.  e.  al.  Food  for  Health:  A Nutrition  Encyclopedia.  Clovis,  California:  Pegus  Press; 
1986.  1986.  PMID:15210. 

• Fortin,  Francois,  Editorial  Director.  The  Visual  Foods  Encyclopedia.  Macmillan,  New  York.  1996. 

• Liu  YW,  Han  CH,  Lee  MH  et  al.  Patatin,  the  Tuber  Storage  Protein  of  Potato  (Solanum  tuberosum  L.),  Exhibits 
Antioxidant  Activity  in  Vitro.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2003  Jul  1 6;5 1 (1 5):4389-93 . 2003. 

• Parr  A,  Mellon  F,  Colquhoun  I,  Davies  H.  Dihydrocaffeoyl  Polyamines  (Kukoamine  and  Allies)  in  Potato  (Solanum 
tuberosum)  Tubers  Detected  during  Metabolite  Profiling.  J Agric.  Food  Chem,  53  (13),  5461  -5466,  2005.  2005. 

• Tudela  JA,  Cantos  E,  Espin  JC  et  al.  Induction  of  antioxidant  flavonol  biosynthesis  in  fresh-cut  potatoes.  Effect  of 
domestic  cooking.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2002  Oct  9;50(21):5925-31.  2002. 

• Wood,  Rebecca.  The  Whole  Foods  Encyclopedia.  New  York,  NY:  Prentice-Hall  Press;  1988.  1988.  PM1D:1 5220. 

privacy  policy  and  visitor  agreement  | who  we  are  | site  map  | what's  new 
For  education  only,  consult  a healthcare  practitioner  for  any  health  problems. 

© 2001-2016  The  George  Mateljan  Foundation,  All  Rights  Reserved 


Romaine  lettuce 


Not  all  lettuce  is  created  equal,  but  if  you  start  your  meal  with  a salad  made  of  romaine  lettuce  you  will  be  sure  to  add  not  only 
a variety  of  textures  and  flavors  to  your  meal  but  an  enormous  amount  of  nutritional  value.  Most  of  the  domestic  U.S.  harvest 
of  romaine  lettuce  and  other  salad  greens  comes  from  California  and  is  available  throughout  the  year. 

Lettuce  is  synonymous  with  salads  as  they  are  predominantly  made  from  crispy  green  lettuce  leaves.  Most  varieties  of  lettuce 
exude  small  amounts  of  a white,  milky  liquid  when  their  leaves  are  broken.  This  "milk"  gives  lettuce  its  slightly  bitter  flavor 
and  its  scientific  name,  Lactuca  sativa  derived  from  the  Latin  word  for  milk. 


Romaine  Lettuce,  raw 
2.00  cups 
(94.00  grams) 

Calories:  16 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

107% 

vitamin  A 

45% 

folate 

32% 

molybdenum 

13% 

fiber 

8% 

manganese 

8% 

potassium 

7% 

copper 

6% 

vitamin  B 1 

6% 

biotin 

6% 

vitamin  B2 

5% 

vitamin  C 

5% 

omega-3  fats 

5% 

iron 

5% 

vitamin  B6 

4% 

chromium 

4% 

phosphorus 

4% 

magnesium 

3% 

calcium 

3% 

nantothenic  acid 

3% 

Health  Benefits 

Want  to  maximize  the  health  benefits  of  your  salads?  Start  with  romaine  lettuce  for  a salad  guaranteed  to  be  packed  with 
nutrients.  The  vitamins,  minerals,  phytonutrients  and  fiber  found  in  romaine  lettuce  are  especially  good  for  the  prevention  or 
alleviation  of  many  common  health  complaints. 

Due  to  its  extremely  low  calorie  content  and  high  water  volume,  romaine  lettuce — while  often  overlooked  in  the  nutrition 
world — is  actually  a very  nutritious  food.  Based  on  its  nutrient  richness,  our  food  ranking  system  qualified  it  as  an  excellent 
source  of  vitamin  A (notably  through  its  concentration  of  the  pro-vitamin  A carotenoid,  beta-carotene),  vitamin  K,  folate,  and 
molybdenum.  Romaine  lettuce  also  emerged  from  our  ranking  system  as  a very  good  source  of  dietary  fiber,  four  minerals 
(manganese,  potassium,  copper,  and  iron),  and  three  vitamins  (biotin,  vitamin  Bl,  and  vitamin  C). 

Salad  Days  Keep  Your  Heart  Young 

Romaine's  vitamin  C and  beta-carotene  content  make  it  a heart-healthy  green.  Vitamin  C and  beta-carotene  work  together  to 
prevent  the  oxidation  of  cholesterol.  When  cholesterol  becomes  oxidized,  it  becomes  sticky  and  starts  to  build  up  in  the  artery 
walls  forming  plaques.  If  these  plaques  become  too  large,  they  can  block  off  blood  flow  or  break,  causing  a clot  that  triggers  a 
heart  attack  or  stroke.  The  fiber  in  Romaine  lettuce  adds  another  plus  in  its  column  of  heart-healthy  effects.  In  the  colon,  fiber 
binds  to  bile  salts  and  removes  them  from  the  body.  This  forces  the  body  to  make  more  bile,  which  is  helpful  because  it  must 
break  down  cholesterol  to  do  so.  This  is  just  one  way  in  which  fiber  is  able  to  lower  high  cholesterol  levels. 


Equally  beneficial  to  heart  health  is  Romaine's  folic  acid  content.  This  B vitamin  is  needed  by  the  body  to  convert  a damaging 
chemical  called  homocysteine  into  other,  benign  substances.  If  not  converted,  homocysteine  can  directly  damage  blood  vessels, 
thus  greatly  increasing  the  risk  of  heart  attack  and  stroke.  In  addition,  romaine  lettuce  is  a very  good  source  of  potassium. 
which  has  been  shown  in  numerous  studies  to  be  useful  in  lowering  high  blood  pressure,  another  risk  factor  for  heart  disease. 
With  its  folic  acid,  vitamin  C,  beta-carotene,  potassium,  and  fiber  content,  romaine  lettuce  can  significantly  contribute  to  a 
heart-healthy  diet. 

Description 

The  words  lettuce  and  salad  are  practically  interchangeable  since  most  salads  are  made  predominantly  with  the  green  crispy 
leaves  of  lettuce.  Most  varieties  of  lettuce  exude  small  amounts  of  a white,  milky  liquid  when  their  leaves  are  broken.  This 
"milk"  gives  lettuce  its  slightly  bitter  flavor  and  its  scientific  name,  Lactuca  sativa  since  Lactuca  is  derived  from  the  Latin 
word  for  milk. 

Lettuce  can  be  classified  into  various  categories  with  the  most  common  being: 

• Romaine:  Also  known  as  Cos,  this  variety  of  head  forming  lettuce  has  deep  green,  long  leaves  with  a crisp  texture  and 
deep  taste. 

• Crisphead:  With  green  leaves  on  the  outside  and  whitish  ones  on  the  inside,  this  variety  of  head  lettuce  has  a crisp 
texture  and  a watery,  mild  taste.  The  best  known  variety  of  crisphead  lettuce  is  iceberg. 

• Butterhead:  These  types  of  lettuce  feature  tender  large  leaves  that  form  a loosely  arranged  head  that  is  easily  separated 
from  the  stem,  a sweet  flavor  and  a soft  texture.  The  best  known  varieties  of  Butterhead  lettuce  include  Boston  and  Bibb. 

• Leaf:  Featuring  broad,  curly  leaf  varieties  that  are  green  and/or  red,  the  leaf  lettuces  offer  a delicate  taste  and  a mildly 
crispy  texture.  Best  known  varieties  of  leaf  lettuce  include  green  leaf  and  red  leaf. 

While  vegetables  such  as  arugula,  watercress  and  mizuna  are  not  technically  lettuce,  these  greens  are  often  used 
interchangeably  with  lettuces  in  salads. 

History 

Native  to  the  eastern  Mediterranean  region  and  western  Asia,  lettuce  has  a long  and  distinguished  history.  With  depictions 
appearing  in  ancient  Egyptian  tombs,  the  cultivation  of  lettuce  is  thought  to  date  back  to  at  least  4500  BC.  The  ancient  Greeks 
and  Romans  held  lettuce  in  high  regard  both  as  a food  and  for  its  therapeutic  medicinal  properties. 

In  China,  where  lettuce  has  been  growing  since  the  5th  century,  lettuce  represents  good  luck.  It  is  served  on  birthdays,  New 
Year's  Day  and  other  special  occasions.  Christopher  Columbus  introduced  varieties  of  lettuce  to  North  America  during  his 
second  voyage  in  1493.  Lettuce  was  first  planted  in  California,  the  lettuce  capital  of  the  United  States,  by  the  Spanish 
missionaries  in  the  17th  century.  Its  popularity  across  the  US  did  not  become  widespread  until  centuries  later  with  the 
development  of  refrigeration  and  railway  transportation. 

How  to  Select  and  Store 

Regardless  of  the  type,  all  lettuces  should  feature  crisp  looking,  unwilted  leaves  that  are  free  of  dark  or  slimy  spots.  In 
addition,  the  leaves'  edges  should  be  free  of  brown  or  yellow  discoloration.  Lettuces  such  as  Romaine  and  Boston  should  have 
compact  heads  and  stem  ends  that  are  not  too  brown. 

Since  different  types  of  lettuce  have  different  qualities,  different  methods  should  be  used  when  storing.  Romaine  and  leaf 
lettuce  should  be  washed  and  dried  before  storing  in  the  refrigerator  to  remove  their  excess  moisture,  while  Boston  lettuce  need 
not  be  washed  before  storing.  A salad  spinner  can  be  very  helpful  in  the  drying  of  lettuce  (and  other  salad  ingredients  as  well). 
These  lettuces  should  be  either  stored  in  a plastic  bag  or  wrapped  in  a damp  cloth  and  stored  in  the  refrigerator  crisper. 

To  store  arugula,  watercress  and  other  types  of  salad  greens  that  are  sold  with  their  roots  attached,  wrap  the  roots  in  a damp 
paper  towel  and  place  the  entire  greens  in  a plastic  bag. 

Romaine  lettuce  will  keep  for  five  to  seven  days,  Boston  and  leaf  lettuce  for  two  to  three  days,  while  fragile  greens  such  as 
arugula  and  watercress  ideally  should  be  prepared  the  day  of  purchase.  All  types  of  lettuce  should  be  stored  away  from 
ethylene-producing  fruits,  such  as  apples,  bananas  and  pears,  since  they  will  cause  the  lettuce  leaves  to  brown. 


How  to  Enjoy 


A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Give  sandwiches  extra  crunch  (and  nutrients)  by  garnishing  with  lettuce  leaves. 

• When  it  comes  to  salads,  the  only  limitation  is  your  imagination.  Be  creative:  use  a variety  of  different  lettuce  types  and 
add  your  favorite  foods.  Whether  they're  vegetables,  fruits,  seeds,  nuts,  whole  grains,  whole  wheat  croutons,  soy 
products,  meats  or  cheeses,  most  every  food  goes  well  with  lettuce. 

• For  an  interactive  meal  that  is  both  unusual  and  fun,  arrange  nuts,  diced  vegetables,  chicken  and/or  baked  tofu  and 
romaine  lettuce  leaves  on  a large  plate.  Everyone  then  has  the  chance  to  make  their  own  lettuce  pockets  by  placing  their 
favorite  fdlings  in  a lettuce  leaf  and  making  a breadless  sandwich  wrap. 

For  some  of  our  favorite  recipes,  click  Recipes. 

Safety 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Romaine  Lettuce,  raw 

2.00  cups  Calories:  16 

94.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

96.35  meg 

107 

120.6 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

409.37  meg  RAE 

45 

51.2 

excellent 

folate 

127.84  meg 

32 

36.0 

excellent 

molybdenum 

5.64  meg 

13 

14.1 

excellent 

fiber 

1-97  g 

8 

8.9 

very  good 

maneanese 

0.15  mg 

8 

8.4 

very  good 

DOtassium 

232.18  mg 

7 

7.5 

very  good 

biotin 

1.79  meg 

6 

6.7 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.07  mg 

6 

6.6 

very  good 

Conner 

0.05  mg 

6 

6.3 

very  good 

iron 

0.91  mg 

5 

5.7 

very  good 

vitamin  C 

3.76  mg 

5 

5.6 

very  good 

vitamin  B2 

0.06  mg 

5 

5.2 

good 

omeea-3  fats 

o.n  g 

5 

5.2 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.07  mg 

4 

4.6 

good 

nhosphoms 

28.20  mg 

4 

4.5 

good 

chromium 

1 .25  meg 

4 

4.0 

good 

masnesium 

13.16  mg 

3 

3.7 

good 

calcium 

31.02  mg 

3 

3.5 

good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.13  mg 

3 

2.9 

good 

World's  Healthiest 

Foods  Rating  Rule 

excellent 


DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/D  V>=  10% 


very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DR1/DV>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Bazzano  LA,  He  J,  Odgen  LG  et  al.  Dietary  intake  of  folate  and  risk  of  stroke  in  US  men  and  women:NHANES  1 
Epidemiologic  Follow-up  Study.  Stroke  2002  May;33(5):1183-9.  2002. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Ensminger,  ME,  Kondale  JE,  Robson  JRK.  Foods  & Nutriton  Encyclopedia.  Pegus  Press,  Clovis, 
California.  1983. 

• Ensminger  AH,  Esminger  M.  K.  J.  e.  al.  Food  for  Health:  A Nutrition  Encyclopedia.  Clovis,  California:  Pegus  Press; 
1986.  1986.  PMID:15210. 

• Fortin,  Francois,  Editorial  Director.  The  Visual  Foods  Encyclopedia.  Macmillan,  New  York.  1996. 

• Wood,  Rebecca.  The  Whole  Foods  Encyclopedia.  New  York,  NY:  Prentice-Hall  Press;  1988.  1988.  PMID:15220. 

privacy  policy  and  visitor  agreement  | who  we  are  | site  map  | what's  new 
For  education  only,  consult  a healthcare  practitioner  for  any  health  problems. 

© 2001-2016  The  George  Mateljan  Foundation,  All  Rights  Reserved 


Sea  vegetables 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Sea  Vegetables 

• Sea  vegetables  may  be  a better  source  of  bioavailable  iron  than  previously  thought.  One  tablespoon  of  dried  sea 
vegetable  will  contain  between  1/2  milligram  and  35  milligrams  of  iron,  and  this  iron  is  also  accompanied  by  a 
measurable  amount  vitamin  C.  Since  vitamin  C acts  to  increase  the  bioavailability  of  plant  iron,  this  combination  in  sea 
vegetables  may  offer  a special  benefit. 

• Brown  algae  (including  the  commonly  eaten  sea  vegetables  kombu/kelp,  wakame,  and  arame  may  be  unique  among  the 
sea  vegetables  in  their  iodine  content.  Some  species  from  the  brown  algae  genus  Laminaria  are  able  to  accumulate 
iodine  in  up  to  30,000  times  more  concentrated  a form  than  sea  water! 

• Sea  vegetables  may  be  a unique  food  source  not  only  of  the  mineral  iodine,  but  also  of  the  mineral  vanadium.  As  part  of 
their  natural  defense  mechanisms,  sea  vegetables  contain  a variety  of  enzymes  called  haloperoxidases.  These  enzymes 
all  require  vanadium  in  order  to  function.  Although  this  mineral  is  not  as  well  known  as  some  of  the  other  mineral 
nutrients,  it  appears  to  play  a multi-faceted  role  in  regulation  of  carbohydrate  metabolism  and  blood  sugar.  While 
research  in  this  area  is  still  in  the  preliminary  stage  and  remains  mixed  in  terms  of  results,  vanadium  may  help  to 
increase  our  body's  sensitivity  to  insulin  by  inhibiting  a group  of  enzymes  called  protein  tyrosine  phosphatases.  It  may 
also  help  us  decrease  our  body's  production  of  glucose  and  help  us  increase  our  body's  ability  to  store  starch  in  the  form 
of  glycogen. 

• Unlike  some  other  types  of  vegetables,  sea  vegetables  do  not  appear  to  depend  solely  on  common  polyphenol 
antioxidants  (like  flavonoids)  or  terpenoid  antioxidants  (like  carotenoids)  for  their  total  antioxidant  capacity.  Recent 
research  from  India  makes  it  clear  that  a variety  of  non-flavonoid  and  non-carotenoid  antioxidant  compounds  are  present 
in  sea  vegetables,  including  several  different  types  of  antioxidant  alkaloids. 

• An  increasing  number  of  health  benefits  from  sea  vegetables  are  being  explained  by  their  fucoidan  concent.  Fucoidans 
are  starch-like  (polysaccharide)  molecules,  but  they  are  unique  in  their  complicated  structure  (which  involves  a high 
degree  of  branching)  and  their  sulfur  content.  Numerous  studies  have  documented  the  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of 
fucoidans  (sometimes  referred  to  as  sulfated  polysaccharides),  and  osteoarthritis  has  been  an  area  of  specific  interest  for 
these  anti-inflammatory  benefits.  The  sulfated  polysaccharides  in  sea  vegetables  also  have  anti-viral  activity  and  have 
been  studied  in  relationship  to  herpes  simplex  virus  1 (HSV-1)  and  herpes  simplex  virus  2 (HSV-2).  By  blocking  the 
binding  sites  used  by  HSV-1  and  HSV-2  for  cell  attachment,  sulfated  polysaccharides  help  prevent  replication  of  these 
viruses.  The  sulfated  polysaccharides  in  sea  vegetables  also  have  important  anticoagulant  and  antithrombotic  properties 
that  bring  valuable  cardiovascular  benefits. 

• Sea  vegetables  may  play  a role  in  lowering  risk  of  estrogen-related  cancers,  including  breast  cancer.  Since  cholesterol  is 
required  as  a building  block  for  production  of  estrogen,  the  cholesterol-lowering  effects  of  sea  vegetables  may  play  a 
risk-reducing  role  in  this  regard.  However,  more  interesting  with  respect  to  breast  cancer  risk  is  the  apparent  ability  of 
sea  vegetables  to  modify  aspects  of  a woman's  normal  menstrual  cycle  in  such  a way  that  over  a lifetime,  the  total 
cumulative  estrogen  secretion  that  occurs  during  the  follicular  phase  of  the  cycle  gets  decreased.  For  women  who  are  at 
risk  of  estrogen-sensitive  breast  cancers,  sea  vegetables  may  bring  a special  benefit  in  this  regard. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

While  the  broad  range  of  minerals  provided  by  sea  vegetables  make  them  a great  addition  to  your  Healthiest  Way  of  Eating, 
Westerners  are  often  not  quite  sure  how  to  add  more  of  these  nutrient-rich  foods  to  their  meals.  One  easy  way  is  to  keep  a 
container  of  kelp  flakes  on  the  dinner  table  and  use  it  instead  of  table  salt  for  seasoning  foods.  You  can  also  experiment  with 
adding  your  favorite  sea  vegetable  to  vegetable  dishes,  salads,  and  miso  soups.  They  are  easy  to  add  to  dishes  as  they  require 
no  cooking  (see  Tips  for  Preparing  Sea  Vegetables  in  the  How  to  Enjoy  section  below).  It  is  recommended  to  include  1 tsp  of 
sea  vegetables  to  your  Healthiest  Way  of  Eating  each  day. 


Sea  Vegetables,  dulse,  dried 
1.00  TBS 
(5.00  grams) 

Calories:  11 
GI:  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

iodine 

500% 

vitamin  C 

16% 

manganese 

16% 

vitamin  B2 

11% 

vitamin  A 

9% 

Health  Benefits 

Why  would  anyone  want  to  eat  sea  vegetables?  Because  they  offer  one  of  the  broadest  ranges  of  minerals  of  any  food, 
containing  virtually  all  the  minerals  found  in  the  ocean — and  not  surprisingly,  many  of  same  minerals  found  in  human  blood. 
The  also  offer  a variety  of  unique  phytonutrients,  including  their  sulfated  polysaccharides  (also  called  fucoidans).  Unlike  some 
other  categories  of  vegetables,  sea  vegetables  do  not  appear  to  depend  on  carotenoids  and  flavonoids  for  their  antioxidant 
benefits,  because  in  additional  to  these  two  important  categories  of  antioxidants,  sea  vegetables  contain  several  other  types, 
including  alkaloid  antioxidants.Sea  vegetables  are  an  excellent  source  of  iodine,  vitamin  C,  manganese,  and  vitamin  B2.  They 
are  also  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  A (in  the  form  of  carotenoids)  and  copper  as  well  as  a good  source  of  protein, 
pantothenic  acid,  potassium,  iron,  zinc,  vitamin  B6,  niacin,  phosphorus,  and  vitamin  Bl. 

Multiple  Benefits  from  Sulfated  Polysaccharides 

To  understand  many  of  the  anti-inflammatory,  anti-cancer,  anticoagulant,  antithrombotic,  and  antiviral  properties  of  sea 
vegetables,  you  need  to  look  no  further  than  their  sulfated  polysaccharides.  These  unique  compounds  (also  called  fucoidans) 
are  starch-like  molecules  that  are  unusual  in  their  complexity.  Unlike  many  other  types  of  polysaccharides,  the  fucoidans 
contain  many  chemical  "branch  points,"  and  they  also  contain  sulfur  atoms.  Multiple  studies  show  anti-inflammatory  benefits 
from  consumption  of  the  sulfated  polysaccharides  in  sea  vegetables.  Some  of  these  benefits  appear  to  take  place  through  the 
blocking  of  selectins  and  from  inhibition  of  an  enzyme  called  phospholipase  A2.  Selectins  are  sugar-protein  molecules 
(glycoproteins)  that  run  through  cell  membranes.  During  inflammatory  responses  by  the  body,  selectins  are  important  in 
allowing  inflammatory  signals  to  be  transmitted  through  the  cell.  By  blocking  selectin  function,  some  of  the  inflammatory 
signaling  can  be  lessened.  In  case  of  chronic,  unwanted  inflammation,  this  blocking  of  selectin-related  signals  can  provide 
important  health  benefits.  Interest  in  this  aspect  of  sea  vegetable  intake  and  anti-inflammatory  benefits  has  received  special 
focus  in  the  area  of  osteoarthritis.  More  widely  present  in  unwanted  inflammatory  problems  is  overactivity  of  the  enzyme 
phospholipase  A2  (PLA2).  This  enzyme  is  important  for  creation  of  the  omega-6  fatty  acid  called  arachidonic  acid  (AA),  and 
AA  is  itself  the  basic  building  block  for  a wide  variety  of  pro-inflammatory  messaging  molecules.  Many  corticosteroid 
medications  lower  inflammation  by  blocking  PLA2,  as  does  licorice,  turmeric,  and  the  flavonoid  quercetin.  The  association  of 
sulfated  polysaccharides  with  decreased  PLA2  activity  may  be  especially  important  in  the  anti-inflammatory  benefits  of  sea 
vegetables. 

Sea  vegetables'  sulfated  polysaccharides  are  also  associated  with  its  anti-viral  activity.  Best  studied  in  this  area  is  the 
relationship  between  sulfated  polysaccharides  and  herpes  simplex  virus  1 (HSV-1)  and  herpes  simplex  vims  2 (HSV-2).  By 
blocking  the  binding  sites  used  by  HSV-1  and  HSV-2  for  cell  attachment,  sulfated  polysaccharides  help  prevent  replication  of 
these  viruses.  It's  important  to  point  out  that  none  of  these  HSV  and  sea  vegetable  studies  have  involved  individuals  with  HSV 
who  incorporated  sea  vegetables  into  their  diet.  Instead,  the  studies  have  been  conducted  in  the  lab  using  human  fibroblast  cells 
inoculated  with  HSV.  We  don't  yet  know  whether  dietary  sea  vegetables  will  help  prevent  HSV  replication  in  individuals  with 
HSV,  even  though  we  greatly  look  forward  to  future  research  results  obtained  in  clinical  studies  with  individuals  who  have 
HSV  and  add  sea  vegetables  to  their  diet. 

Many  of  the  cardiovascular  benefits  of  sea  vegetables  can  also  be  attributed  to  their  sulfated  polysaccharide  content.  Extracts 
from  sea  vegetables  are  sometimes  referred  to  as  "heparin-like  extracts"  because  they  exhibit  some  of  the  same  properties  as 
this  widely  used  anticoagulant  medication.  In  fact,  heparin  itself  can  be  described  as  a sulfated  polysaccharide,  and  like  the 
sulfated  polysaccharides  found  in  sea  vegetables,  it  can  decrease  the  tendency  of  blood  platelet  cells  to  coagulate  and  form 
clots.  (A  blood  clot  can  also  be  called  a "thrombus" — thus  giving  rise  to  the  term  "antithrombotic"  in  description  of  sulfated 
polysaccharides.)  In  addition  to  their  anticoagulant  and  antithrombotic  benefits,  however,  sea  vegetables  have  also  been  shown 
to  help  lower  total  cholesterol  and  LDL  cholesterol  and  to  improve  cardiovascular  health  in  this  way. 


Anti-Cancer  Benefits 


Not  fully  understood  but  of  increasing  interest  to  researchers  are  the  anti-cancer  benefits  of  sea  vegetables.  Research  interest  in 
this  area  has  tended  to  focus  on  colon  cancer,  with  a special  emphasis  on  the  loss  of  calcium-sensing  receptors  (CaSRs)  in 
colon  cancer  cells,  and  the  ability  of  sea  vegetable  extracts  to  alter  CaSR-related  events.  But  since  chronic,  unwanted 
inflammation  and  chronic  oxidative  stress  are  both  risk  factors  for  development  of  cancer,  it  would  be  quite  natural  for 
scientists  to  be  interested  in  sea  vegetables  are  anti-cancer  foods  not  only  in  the  case  of  colon  cancer,  but  for  other  types  of 
cancer  as  well.  Sea  vegetables  are  well-researched  as  containing  a variety  of  anti-inflammatory  and  antioxidant  compounds, 
and  this  nutrient  combination  is  likely  to  result  in  some  risk-lowering  benefits  in  the  case  of  colon  cancer  and  other  cancer 
types.  Although  much  more  research  is  needed  in  this  area,  we  expect  the  anti-caner  benefits  of  sea  vegetables  to  become  more 
firmly  established  over  time. 

Of  special  note  in  this  area  of  cancer  and  sea  vegetables  is  the  issue  of  estrogen-related  cancers,  especially  breast  cancer.  Intake 
of  sea  vegetables  appears  able  to  modify  various  aspects  of  a woman's  normal  menstrual  cycle  in  such  a way  that  over  long 
periods  of  time  (tens  of  years)  the  total  cumulative  estrogen  secretion  that  occurs  during  the  follicular  phase  of  the  cycle  gets 
reduced.  Since  overproduction  of  estrogen  can  play  a role  in  the  risk  of  breast  cancer  for  women  who  are  estrogen-sensitive, 
sea  vegetables  may  offer  unique  benefits  in  this  regard.  It's  also  important  to  note  that  cholesterol  is  required  as  a building 
block  for  production  of  estrogen,  and  intake  of  sea  vegetables  has  repeatedly  been  shown  to  lower  blood  levels  of  total 
cholesterol  and  LDL-cholesterol. 

Other  Benefits 

Array  of  Minerals 

Sea  vegetables  have  been  rightly  singled  out  for  their  unique  mineral  content.  You're  going  to  find  measurable  amounts  of 
calcium,  copper,  iodine,  iron,  magnesium,  manganese,  molybdenum,  phosphorus,  potassium,  selenium,  vanadium,  and  zinc  in 
sea  vegetables,  and  in  some  cases  (like  iodine)  you  can  simply  not  find  a more  concentrated  mineral  source.  Brown  algae  like 
kombu/kelp,  wakame,  and  arame  can  be  particularly  concentrated  sources  of  iodine,  and  for  some  health  conditions  - like 
hypothyroidism,  in  which  the  cells  of  the  thyroid  make  too  little  thyroid  hormone  - increased  iodine  intake  can  provide 
important  health  benefits.  The  wide  variety  of  minerals  found  in  sea  vegetables  is  simply  not  found  among  most  other 
vegetable  groups. 

The  vanadium  content  of  sea  vegetables  is  an  area  of  special  interest  with  respect  to  their  mineral  content.  While  research  in 
this  area  remain  inconclusive,  sea  vegetables  may  be  able  to  help  us  increase  our  cells'  sensitivity  to  insulin,  help  us  prevent 
overproduction  of  glucose  by  our  cells,  and  help  us  take  existing  blood  sugars  and  convert  them  into  storable  starches.  All  of 
these  factors  would  help  us  increase  our  blood  sugar  control,  and  lower  our  risk  of  type  2 diabetes. 

Concentration  of  Iron 

Sea  vegetables  may  turn  out  to  be  a better  source  of  bioavailable  iron  than  previously  thought.  One  tablespoon  of  dried  sea 
vegetable  is  likely  to  contain  between  1/2  milligram  and  35  milligrams  of  iron.  At  the  lower  end  of  this  range,  the  iron  content 
of  sea  vegetables  is  not  really  significant.  But  at  the  higher  end  of  this  range,  the  amount  of  iron  found  in  sea  vegetables  is 
outstanding.  (As  an  overall  iron  rating  in  our  food  rating  system,  we  describe  sea  vegetables  as  being  a "good"  source  of  iron.) 
The  iron  found  in  sea  vegetables  is  also  accompanied  by  a measurable  amount  vitamin  C.  Since  vitamin  C acts  to  increase  the 
bioavailability  of  plant  iron,  this  combination  in  sea  vegetables  may  offer  a special  benefit. 

Antioxidant  Potential 

The  antioxidant  content  of  sea  vegetables  also  deserves  mention  with  respect  to  its  health  benefits.  While  sea  vegetables  do 
contain  measurable  amounts  of  polyphenols  like  carotenoids  and  flavonoids,  they  also  contain  other  phytonutrient  antioxidants, 
including  several  types  of  alkaloids  that  have  been  shown  to  possess  antioxidant  properties.  Coupled  with  measurable  amounts 
of  antioxidant  vitamins  (like  vitamins  C and  E)  and  antioxidant  minerals  (like  manganese  and  zinc),  sea  vegetables  can  be 
expected  to  help  us  reduce  our  risk  of  unwanted  oxidative  stress  and  many  types  of  cardiovascular  problems  that  are  associated 
with  poor  antioxidant  intake. 

Description 

Western  cultures  are  only  recently  beginning  to  enjoy  the  taste  and  nutritional  value  of  sea  vegetables,  often  referred  to  as 
seaweed,  which  have  been  a staple  of  the  Japanese  diet  for  centuries.  Numerous  various  varieties  of  sea  vegetables  can  be 
found  in  health  food  and  specialty  stores  throughout  the  year.  Owing  to  their  rise  in  popularity,  they  are  also  becoming  much 
easier  to  find  in  local  supermarkets  as  well. 


Sea  vegetables  can  be  found  growing  both  in  the  marine  salt  waters  as  well  as  in  fresh  water  lakes  and  seas.  They  commonly 
grow  on  coral  reefs  or  in  rocky  landscapes  and  can  grow  at  great  depths  provided  that  sunlight  can  penetrate  through  the  water 
to  where  they  reside  since,  like  plants,  they  need  light  for  their  survival.  Sea  vegetables  are  neither  plants  nor  animals  but 
classified  in  a group  known  as  algae. 

There  are  thousands  of  types  of  sea  vegetables,  which  are  classified  into  categories  by  color,  known  either  as  brown,  red  or 
green  sea  vegetables.  Each  is  unique,  having  a distinct  shape,  taste  and  texture.  Although  not  all  sea  vegetables  that  exist  are 
presently  consumed,  a wide  range  of  sea  vegetables  are  enjoyed  as  foods.  Because  Japan  remains  one  of  the  world's  largest  sea 
vegetable  producers  and  exporters,  the  Japanese  names  for  sea  vegetables  are  among  the  most  common  names  found  in 
grocery  stores  throughout  the  United  States.  The  words  we  use  to  describe  most  commonly  eaten  sea  vegetables  like  nori, 
hijiki,  wakame,  arame,  and  kombu  are  Japanese.  Dulse,  however,  is  of  Gaelic  origin. 

Many  people  aren't  sure  exactly  what  is  meant  by  the  word  "kelp,"  even  though  they  associate  it  with  sea  vegetables.  This 
word  is  often  used  very  loosely  to  refer  to  any  type  of  sea  vegetable.  However,  when  it's  used  in  a scientific  way,  the  word 
"kelp"  refers  specifically  to  the  family  of  large  brown  algae  and  specifically  to  a variety  of  brown  algae  species  that  are  found 
within  the  genus  Laminaria. 

Here  is  a little  more  information  about  some  of  the  most  popular  types  of  sea  vegetables:  Nori : dark  purple-black  color  that 
turns  phosphorescent  green  when  toasted,  famous  for  its  role  in  making  sushi  rolls  Kelp : light  brown  to  dark  green  in  color, 
oftentimes  available  in  flake  form  Hijiki : looks  like  small  strands  of  black  wiry  pasta,  has  a strong  flavor  Kombu : very  dark  in 
color  and  generally  sold  in  strips  or  sheets,  oftentimes  used  as  a flavoring  for  soups  Wakame : similar  to  kombu,  most 
commonly  used  to  make  Japanese  miso  soup  Arame : this  lacy,  wiry  sea  vegetable  is  sweeter  and  milder  in  taste  than  many 
others  Dulse : soft,  chewy  texture  and  a reddish-brown  color 

On  the  science  side  of  the  equation,  here  is  a brief  chart  showing  basic  types  of  sea  vegetables  and  some  of  their  most 
commonly  eaten  varieties: 

Sea  Vegetables  From  a Science  Standpoint 


Green  Algae 

Brown  Algae 

Red  Algae 

Scientific 

Name 

Chlorophycophyta 

Phaeophycophyta 

Rhodophycophyta 

Approximate 
Number  of 
Species 

7,000 

4,000 

2,000 

Commonly 
Eaten  Forms 

sea  lettuce 

kombu/kelp  (Laminaria  genus) 

nori  ( Porphyra  genus) 

wakame  (Undaria  genus) 

agar-agar  (Euchema  genus) 

arame  ( Eisenia  genus) 

dulse  ( Palmaria  genus) 

hijiki  (Hijikia  genus) 

Other  Well- 

Studied 

Forms 

Caulerpa  genus, 
Ulva  genus, 
Chetomorpha  genus 

Sargassum  genus,  Padina  genus,  Fucus 
genus  (Atlantic  brown  kelp,  also  called 
bladderwrack) 

Euchema  genus,  Gracilaria  genus,  Gelidiella 
genus,  Plocamium  genus,  Lithothamnium  genus, 
Kappaphycus  genus 

History 

The  consumption  of  sea  vegetables  enjoys  a long  history  throughout  the  world.  Archaeological  evidence  suggests  that  Japanese 
cultures  have  been  consuming  sea  vegetables  for  more  than  10,000  years.  In  ancient  Chinese  cultures,  sea  vegetables  were  a 
noted  delicacy,  suitable  especially  for  honored  guests  and  royalty.  Korea,  Vietnam,  and  Malaysia  are  other  Asian  countries 
where  sea  vegetables  are  widely  consumed.  Yet,  sea  vegetables  were  not  just  limited  to  being  a featured  part  of  Asian  cuisines. 
In  fact,  most  regions  and  countries  located  by  waters,  including  Scotland,  Ireland,  Norway,  Iceland,  New  Zealand,  the  Pacific 
Islands  and  coastal  South  American  countries  have  been  consuming  sea  vegetables  since  ancient  times. 


How  to  Select  and  Store 


Look  for  sea  vegetables  that  are  sold  in  tightly  sealed  packages.  Avoid  those  that  have  evidence  of  excessive  moisture.  Some 
types  of  sea  vegetables  are  sold  in  different  forms.  For  example,  nori  can  be  found  in  sheets,  flakes,  or  powder.  Choose  the 
form  of  sea  vegetables  that  will  best  meet  your  culinary  needs. 

Store  sea  vegetables  in  tightly  sealed  containers  at  room  temperature  where  they  can  stay  fresh  for  at  least  several  months. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

Make  homemade  vegetable  sushi  rolls  by  wrapping  rice  and  your  favorite  vegetables  in  sheets  of  nori. 

Slice  nori  into  small  strips  and  sprinkle  on  top  of  salads. 

Combine  soaked  hijiki  with  shredded  carrots  and  ginger.  Mix  with  a little  olive  oil  and  sov  sauce 

• Shiitake  Mushroom  Seaweed  Soup 

• Spicv  Healthy  SauteedTofu 

• Cucumber  Seaweed  Salad 

• Kale  with  Hiiiki 

• Seaweed  Rice 


Safety 

Sea  vegetables  have  been  a topic  of  ongoing  debate  and  research  concern  involving  heavy  metals.  In  the  world  of  marine 
biology  and  marine  ecology,  sea  vegetables  are  widely  recognized  as  plants  with  an  excellent  ability  to  take  up  minerals  from 
the  water  and  hold  onto  these  minerals  in  their  cells.  This  ability  makes  sea  vegetables  a rich  source  of  many  wonderful 
minerals,  including  magnesium,  calcium,  iron,  and  iodine.  However,  in  waters  that  have  become  polluted  with  heavy  metal 
elements — including  arsenic,  lead,  and  cadmium  - sea  vegetables  can  also  act  like  a sponge  in  absorbing  these  unwanted 
contaminants.  Some  marine  ecologists  actually  use  sea  vegetables  as  a kind  of  "biomonitor"  to  determine  levels  of  heavy  metal 
pollution  in  bodies  of  water. 

Among  all  of  the  heavy  metals,  arsenic  appears  to  be  most  problematic  when  it  comes  to  sea  vegetable  toxicity  risk.  Virtually 
all  types  of  sea  vegetables  have  been  determined  to  contain  traces  of  arsenic.  These  types  include  arame,  hijiki,  kombu,  nori, 
and  wakame.  Among  all  types  of  sea  vegetable,  however,  hijiki  stands  out  as  being  particularly  high-risk  when  it  comes  to 
arsenic  exposure.  During  the  period  2000-2005,  government-related  agencies  in  England,  New  Zealand,  and  Canada  issued 
public  health  recommendations  advising  against  consumption  of  hijiki  sea  vegetable  unless  verified  as  containing  very  low 
levels  of  inorganic  arsenic.  Based  on  these  reports,  we  recommend  avoidance  of  hijiki  as  a sea  vegetable  unless  available  in  the 
form  of  certified  organic  hijiki. 

Although  regulations  for  sea  vegetables  at  the  National  Organics  Program  at  the  U.S.  Department  of  Agriculture  (USDA)  are 
in  a state  of  partial  review,  there  are  two  types  of  certified  organic  sea  vegetables  currently  available  in  the  marketplace.  Some 
certified  organic  sea  vegetables  have  been  farmed  in  a process  that's  usually  referred  to  as  "aquaculture"  or  "mariculture"  and 
that  involves  a closely-monitored,  contained-water  environment  for  the  sea  vegetables.  Other  certified  organic  sea  vegetables 
have  been  wild-harvest,  but  typically  in  regions  where  ocean  waters  are  better  protected  against  contaminants.  In  both  cases, 
you're  much  more  likely  to  get  a low  level  of  contaminants  like  arsenic  (or  no  arsenic  contamination  whatsoever)  by  selecting 
certified  organic  hijiki  (or  any  other  sea  vegetable).  To  assure  yourself  of  no  arsenic  contamination  whatsoever,  you'll  need  to 
find  a certified  organic  product  that  reports  lab  testing  on  the  packaging  and  specifically  indicates  an  arsenic-free  status. 

The  levels  of  arsenic  found  in  other  types  of  sea  vegetable  have  been  relatively  small.  The  U.S.  Environmental  Protection 
Agency  (EPA)  has  set  an  oral  Reference  Dose  (RfD)  for  arsenic  exposure  of  0.3  micrograms  per  kilogram  of  body  weight  per 
day.  For  a person  weighing  154  pounds,  that  amount  translates  into  21  micrograms  of  arsenic.  In  research  on  sea  vegetables, 
sea  vegetable-containing  supplements  (like  kelp  supplements)  are  better  studied  than  fresh  sea  vegetables,  so  it  can  be  helpful 
to  look  at  sea  vegetable  supplement  data  when  trying  to  evaluate  the  arsenic  risk  from  sea  vegetables.  In  multiple  research 
studies,  the  amount  of  arsenic  present  in  one  tablespoon  (10  grams)  of  kelp  has  averaged  about  4-5  micrograms,  or 
approximately  20-25%  of  the  RfD.  While  this  level  of  arsenic  intake  is  well  beneath  the  EPA's  threshold  for  daily  oral  intake,  it 
may  still  be  an  amount  that  some  persons  wish  to  avoid.  Your  only  guarantee  for  avoiding  this  arsenic  exposure  is  to  find  and 
purchase  sea  vegetables  that  have  been  specifically  tested  for  arsenic  content  and  report  arsenic-free  contents  on  the  packaging. 


As  described  earlier,  you  are  also  much  more  likely  to  get  a low  level  of  arsenic  exposure  (or  no  arsenic  exposure  at  all)  by 
selecting  of  certified  organic  sea  vegetables. 

Because  20%  of  all  foodborne  disease  is  associated  with  seafood  intake,  and  half  of  these  seafood-related  disease  problems 
involve  toxins  from  algae,  it's  also  important  to  understand  the  relationship  between  sea  vegetables  (very  large  algae)  and  algae 
that  occur  in  other  forms.  Harmful  algal  blooms  (HABs),  or  what  were  previously  referred  to  as  "red  tides,"  involve  unwanted 
changes  in  the  sea  environment  in  which  very  small,  one-celled  algae  become  too  plentiful.  These  small,  one-celled  algae 
come  in  the  form  of  dinoflagellates  and  diatoms.  These  one-celled  algae  are  capable  of  producing  certain  types  of  compounds 
(for  example,  saxitoxins)  that  can  be  harmful  to  humans.  Filter-feeding  shellfish  (like  oysters  and  clams)  can  ingest  large 
amounts  of  these  small,  one-celled  algae  and  can  serve  to  pass  on  their  potential  toxins  in  more  concentrated  form  to  humans. 
"Shellfish  poisoning"  is  the  general  name  given  to  this  set  of  events.  While  shellfish  poisoning  is  an  important  health  problem 
in  and  of  itself,  it  is  a different  type  of  problem  than  the  problem  of  potential  heavy  metal  residues  found  in  sea  vegetables,  and 
the  toxin-related  risks  associated  with  shellfish  poisoning  should  not  be  confused  with  heavy  metal  risks  associated  with  sea 
vegetables. 

We  continue  to  include  sea  vegetables  among  the  World's  Healthiest  Foods  because  of  their  incredibly  rich  mineral  content  and 
other  unique  health  benefits,  and  because  the  toxicity  risks  described  above  can  be  prevented  through  the  purchase  of  certified 
organic  sea  vegetables!  Because  most  certified  organic  sea  vegetables  can  be  purchased  in  dried  form  and  reconstituted  at 
home,  they  can  often  be  ordered  from  outside  of  your  local  area  and  shipped  to  you  at  a relatively  low  cost. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Sea  Vegetables,  dulse,  dried 

1.00  TBS  Calories:  11 

5.00  grams  GI:  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

iodine 

750.00  meg 

500 

829.5 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

12.16  mg 

16 

26.9 

excellent 

maneanese 

0.31  mg 

16 

25.7 

excellent 

vitamin  B2 

0.14  mg 

11 

17.9 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

81.05  meg  RAE 

9 

14.9 

very  good 

Conner 

0.08  mg 

9 

14.7 

very  good 

protein 

1.81  g 

4 

6.0 

good 

nantothenic  acid 

0.16  mg 

3 

5.3 

good 

ootassium 

110.96  mg 

3 

5.3 

good 

iron 

0.56  mg 

3 

5.2 

good 

zinc 

0.33  mg 

3 

5.0 

good 

vitamin  B6 

0.05  mg 

3 

4.9 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.46  mg 

3 

4.8 

good 

nhosnhorus 

18.05  mg 

3 

4.3 

good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.03  mg 

3 

4.1 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/DV>=10% 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 

very  good 

Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 

Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 

• Amster  E,  Tiwary  A,  and  Schenker  MB.  Case  report:  potential  arsenic  toxicosis  secondary  to  herbal  kelp  supplement. 
Environ  Health  Perspect.  2007  Apr;115(4):606-8.  2007. 

• Aslam  MN,  Bhagavathula  N,  Paruchuri  T et  al.  Growth-inhibitory  effects  of  a mineralized  extract  from  the  red  marine 
algae,  Lithothamnion  calcareum,  on  Ca2+-sensitive  and  Ca2+-resistant  human  colon  carcinoma  cells.  Cancer  Lett.  2009 
October  8;  283(2):  186-192.  2009. 

• Cabrita  MT,  Vale  C and  Rauter  AP.  Halogenated  Compounds  from  Marine  Algae.  Mar.  Drugs  2010,  8,  2301-2317.  2010. 

• Cumashi  A,  Ushakova  NA,  Preobrazhenskaya  ME  et  al.  A comparative  study  of  the  anti-inflammatory,  anticoagulant, 
antiangiogenic,  and  antiadhesive  activities  of  nine  different  fucoidans  from  brown  seaweeds.  Glycobiology  vol.  17  no.  5 
pp.  541-552,  2007.  2007. 

• Giiven  KC,  Percot  A and  Sezik  E.  Alkaloids  in  marine  algae.  Mar  Drugs.  2010  Feb  4;8(2):269-84.  2010. 

• Ganesh  EA,  Das  S,  Arun  G et  al.  Heparin  like  Compound  from  Green  Alga  Chaetomorpha  antennina  - As 
PotentialAnticoagulant  Agent.  Asian  Journal  of  Medical  Sciences  1(3):  114-116,  2009.  2009. 

• Garcia-Casal  MN,  Pereira  AC,  Leets  I et  al.  High  Iron  Content  and  Bioavailability  in  Humans  from  Four  Species  of 
Marine  Algae.  J.  Nutr.  137:  2691-2695,  2007.  2007. 

• Harden  EA,  Falshaw  R,  Carnachan  SM  et  al.  Virucidal  Activity  of  Polysaccharide  Extracts  from  Four  Algal  Species 
against  Herpes  Simplex  Virus.  Antiviral  Res.  2009  September  ; 83(3):  282-289.  2009. 

• Krishnaiah  D,  Rosalam  S,  Prasad  DMR,  et  al.  Mineral  content  of  some  Seaweeds  from  Sabah's  South  China  sea.  Asian 
J.  Scientific  Res.,  2008;  1:  166-170.  2008. 

• Manoharan  N,  Sampathkumar  P,  Dheeba  B et  al.  Potential  Hepatoprotective  Effect  of  Aqueous  Extract  of  Gracilaria 
corticata  in  AFB1  Induced  Hepatotoxicity  in  Wistar  Rats.  Journal  of  Biological  Sciences.  Year:  2008  | Volume:  8 | Issue: 
8 | Page  No.:  1352-1355.  2008. 

• Myers  SP,  O'Connor  J,  Fitton  H et  al.  A combined  phase  I and  II  open  label  study  on  the  effects  of  a seaweed  extract 
nutrient  complex  on  osteoarthritis.  Biologies.  2010;  4:  33-44.  2010. 

• Passadouro  M,  Metelo  AM,  Melao  AS  et  al.  Study  of  the  antidiabetic  capacity  of  the  VO(dmpp)2  complex.  J Inorg 
Biochem.  2010  Sep;104(9):987-92.  2010. 

• Skibola  CF.  The  effect  of  Fucus  vesiculosus,  an  edible  brown  seaweed,  upon  menstrual  cycle  length  and  hormonal  status 
in  three  pre-menopausal  women:  a case  report.  BMC  Complement  Altern  Med.  2004;  4:  10-18.  2004. 

• Unauthored.  Vanadium  (vanadyl  sulfate).  Monograph.  Altern  Med  Rev.  2009  Jun;  14(2):  177-80.  2009. 

• Vadlapudi  V and  Naidu  KC.  In  vitro  Bioevaluation  of  Antioxidant  activities  of  selected  Marine  algae.  Journal  of 
Pharmacy  Research  2010,  3(2), 329-331.  2010. 

• Van  Dolah  FM.  Marine  Algal  Toxins:  Origins,  Health  Effects,  and  Their  Increased  Occurrence.  Health  Perspect  1 08 
(suppl  1):1  33-141  (2000).  2000. 

• Winter  JM  and  Moore  BS.  Exploring  the  Chemistry  and  Biology  of  Vanadiumdependent  Haloperoxidases.  J Biol  Chem. 
2009  July  10;  284(28):  18577-18581.  2009. 

• Young-Joo  L,  Adlercreutz  H and  Kwon  HJ.  Quantitative  Analysis  of  Isoflavones  and  Lignans  in  Sea  Vegetables 
Consumed  in  Korea  Using  Isotope  Dilution  Gas  Chromatography-Mass  Spectrometry.  Food  Science  and  Biotechnology 
/ v.  15,  no.  1,  2006,  pp.  102- 106.  2006. 

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Spinach 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  About  Spinach 

• Bright,  vibrant-looking  spinach  leaves  are  not  only  more  appealing  to  the  eye  but  more  nourishing  as  well.  Recent 
research  has  shown  that  spinach  leaves  that  look  fully  alive  and  vital  have  greater  concentrations  of  vitamin  C than 
spinach  leaves  that  are  pale  in  color.  The  study  authors  suggest  that  the  greater  supply  of  vitamin  C helps  protect  all  of 
the  oxygen-sensitive  phytonutrients  in  the  spinach  leaves  and  makes  them  looking  vibrant  and  alive. 

• Many  people  are  concerned  about  the  nutrient  content  of  delicate  vegetables  (like  baby  spinach)  when  those  vegetables 
are  placed  in  clear  plastic  containers  in  grocery  store  display  cases  and  continuously  exposed  to  artificial  lighting.  One 
recent  food  study  has  shown  that  you  don't  need  to  worry  about  the  overall  status  of  antioxidants  in  baby  spinach  that  has 
been  stored  and  displayed  in  this  way.  In  this  scientific  study,  the  overall  nutrient  richness  of  the  baby  spinach  when 
exposed  to  constant  light  was  actually  higher  than  the  overall  nutrient  richness  of  baby  spinach  leaves  kept  in  total 
darkness.  The  period  of  time  in  the  study  was  9 days,  and  the  spinach  was  kept  at  39°F/4°C  (a  temperature  on  the  lower 
end  of  the  scale  for  most  home  refrigerators).  These  findings  are  good  news  for  anyone  purchasing  baby  spinach  in 
"ready-to-eat"  containers. 

• One  new  category  of  health-supportive  nutrients  found  in  spinach  is  called  "glycoglycerolipids."  Glycoclycerolipids  are 
the  main  fat-related  molecules  in  the  membranes  of  light-sensitive  organs  in  most  plants.  They're  indispensable  for  the 
process  of  photosynthesis  carried  out  by  plants.  However,  recent  lab  research  in  laboratory  animals  has  shown  that 
glycoglycerolipids  from  spinach  can  help  protect  the  lining  of  the  digestive  tract  from  damage  — especially  damage 
related  to  unwanted  inflammation.  You  can  expect  to  see  more  studies  about  this  exciting  new  category  of  molecules  in 
spinach  and  its  potential  health  benefits. 

• In  a recent  study  on  the  relationship  between  risk  of  prostate  cancer  and  vegetable  intake  — including  the  vegetables 
spinach,  broccoli,  cauliflower,  cabbage,  Bmssels  sprouts,  mustard  greens,  turnip  greens,  collards,  and  kale  — only 
spinach  showed  evidence  of  significant  protection  against  the  occurrence  of  aggressive  prostate  cancer.  ("Aggressive 
prostate  cancer"  was  defined  as  stage  III  or  IV  prostate  cancer  with  a Gleason  score  of  at  least  7.  Gleason  scores  are 
based  on  lab  studies  of  prostate  tissue  and  common  tumor-related  patterns.)  The  study  authors  did  not  speculate  about 
specific  substances  in  spinach  that  may  have  been  involved  in  decreased  prostate  cancer  risk.  However,  we  know  that 
certain  unique  anti-cancer  carotenoids — called  epoxyxanthophylls  — are  plentiful  in  spinach,  even  though  they  may  not 
be  as  effectively  absorbed  as  other  carotenoids  like  beta-carotene  and  lutein.  You  can  count  on  seeing  future  research  on 
neoxanthin  and  violaxanthin  — two  anti-cancer  epoxyxanthophylls  that  are  found  in  plentiful  amounts  in  the  leaves  of 
spinach. 

WHFoods  Recommendations 

Among  the  World's  Healthiest  vegetables,  spinach  comes  out  at  the  top  of  our  ranking  list  for  nutrient  richness.  Rich  in 
vitamins  and  minerals,  it  is  also  concentrated  in  health-promoting  phytonutrients  such  as  carotenoids  (beta-carotene,  lutein,  and 
zeaxanthin)  and  flavonoids  to  provide  you  with  powerful  antioxidant  protection.  Enjoy  baby  spinach  in  your  favorite  salads  or 
make  a salad  made  exclusively  of  baby  spinach.  Spinach  is  one  of  only  three  vegetables  that  we  recommend  boiling  to  help 
reduce  its  concentration  of  oxalic  acid.  We  recommend  boiling  for  just  1 minute  to  minimize  loss  of  nutrients  and  flavor.  For 
more  on  the  Healthiest  Way  of  Cooking  Spinach,  see  the  How  to  Enjoy  section  below. 

Foods  belonging  to  the  chenopod  family — including  beets,  chard,  spinach  and  quinoa — continue  to  show  an  increasing  number 
of  health  benefits  not  readily  available  from  other  food  families.  The  red  and  yellow  betalain  pigments  found  in  this  food 
family,  their  unique  epoxyxanthophyll  carotenoids,  and  the  special  connection  between  their  overall  phytonutrients  and  our 
nervous  system  health  (including  our  specialized  nervous  system  organs  like  the  eye)  point  to  the  chenopod  family  of  foods  as 
unique  in  their  health  value.  While  we  have  yet  to  see  large-scale  human  studies  that  point  to  a recommended  minimum  intake 
level  for  foods  from  this  botanical  family,  we  have  seen  data  on  chenopod  phytonutrients,  and  based  on  this  data,  we 
recommend  that  you  include  foods  from  the  chenopod  family  in  your  diet  1-2  times  per  week.  In  the  case  of  a leafy  food  like 
spinach,  we  recommend  a serving  size  of  at  least  1/2  cup,  and  even  more  beneficial,  at  least  one  full  cup. 


Spinach,  cooked 
1.00  cup 
(180.00  grams) 

Calories:  41 

GI:  very  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

vitamin  K 

987% 

vitamin  A 

105% 

Health  Benefits 

We  all  know  that  Popeye  made  himself  super  strong  by  eating  spinach,  but  you  may  be  surprised  to  learn  that  he  may  also  have 
been  helping  to  protect  himself  against  inflammatory  problems,  oxidative  stress-related  problems,  cardiovascular  problems, 
bone  problems,  and  cancers  at  the  same  time. 

Anti-Inflammatory  and  Anti-Cancer  Benefits  from  Spinach  Phytonutrients 

Even  though  virtually  all  vegetables  contain  a wide  variety  of  phytonutrients — including  flavonoids  and  carotenoids — spinach 
can  claim  a special  place  among  vegetables  in  terms  of  its  phytonutrient  content.  Researchers  have  identified  more  than  a 
dozen  different  flavonoid  compounds  in  spinach  that  function  as  anti-inflammatory  and  anti-cancer  agents.  (Some  of  these 
substances  fall  into  a technical  category  of  flavonoids  known  as  methylenedioxyflavonol  glucuronides.)  The  anticancer 
properties  of  these  spinach  flavonoids  have  been  sufficiently  impressive  to  prompt  researchers  to  create  specialized  spinach 
extracts  that  could  be  used  in  controlled  laboratory  studies.  These  spinach  extracts  have  been  shown  to  slow  down  cell  division 
in  human  stomach  cancer  cells  (gastric  adenocarcinomas),  and  in  studies  on  laboratory  animals,  to  reduce  skin  cancers  (skin 
papillomas).  A study  on  adult  women  living  in  New  England  in  the  late  1980s  also  showed  intake  of  spinach  to  be  inversely 
related  to  incidence  of  breast  cancer. 

Excessive  inflammation,  of  course,  typically  emerges  as  a risk  factor  for  increased  cancer  risk.  (That's  why  many  anti- 
inflammatory nutrients  can  also  be  shown  to  have  anti-cancer  properties.)  But  even  when  unrelated  to  cancer,  excessive 
inflammation  has  been  shown  to  be  less  likely  following  consumption  of  spinach.  Particularly  in  the  digestive  tract,  reduced 
inflammation  has  been  associated  not  only  with  the  flavonoids  found  in  spinach,  but  also  with  its  carotenoids.  Neoxanthin  and 
violaxanthin  are  two  anti-inflammatory  epoxyxanthophylls  that  are  found  in  plentiful  amounts  in  the  leaves  of  spinach.  While 
these  unique  carotenoids  may  not  be  as  readily  absorbed  as  carotenoids  like  beta-carotene  or  lutein,  they  still  play  an  important 
role  in  regulation  of  inflammation  and  are  present  in  unusual  amounts  in  spinach. 

Decreased  risk  of  aggressive  prostate  cancer  is  one  health  benefit  of  spinach  consumption  that  should  not  be  overlooked  when 
talking  about  the  anti-cancer  properties  of  spinach.  "Aggressive  prostate  cancer"  is  defined  as  stage  111  or  IV  prostate  cancer 
which  carries  with  it  a Gleason  score  of  at  least  7.  (Gleason  scores  are  prostate  cancer  rating  measurements  that  require  lab 
studies  of  prostate  tissue  and  evaluation  of  common  tumor-related  patterns.)  Interestingly,  in  a recent  study  that  evaluated 
possible  prostate  cancer-prevention  benefits  from  a variety  of  vegetables  including  spinach,  broccoli,  cauliflower,  cabbage, 
Brussels  sprouts,  mustard  and  turnip  greens,  collards,  and  kale  — only  spinach  showed  evidence  of  significant  protection 
against  the  occurrence  of  aggressive  prostate  cancer. 


Antioxidant  Benefits  of  Spinach 


Most  of  the  flavonoid  and  carotenoid  nutrients  found  in  spinach  that  provide  anti-inflammatory  benefits  provide  antioxidant 
benefits  as  well.  Given  the  fact  that  spinach  is  an  excellent  source  of  other  antioxidant  nutrients  — including  vitamin  C, 
vitamin  E,  vitamin  A (in  the  form  of  carotenoids),  and  manganese  — as  well  as  a very  good  source  of  the  antioxidant  zinc  and  a 
good  source  of  the  antioxidant  selenium — it's  no  wonder  that  spinach  helps  lower  risk  of  numerous  health  problems  related  to 
oxidative  stress.  Our  blood  vessels,  for  example,  are  especially  susceptible  to  damage  from  oxidative  stress,  and  intake  of 
spinach  has  been  associated  with  decreased  risk  of  several  blood  vessel-related  problems,  including  atherosclerosis  and  high 
blood  pressure.  (Interestingly,  the  blood  pressure  benefits  of  spinach  may  be  related  not  only  to  its  antioxidants,  but  also  to 
some  of  its  special  peptides.  Peptides  are  small  pieces  of  protein,  and  researchers  have  discovered  several  peptides  in  spinach 
that  can  help  lower  blood  pressure  by  inhibiting  an  enzyme  called  angiotensin  I-converting  enzyme.) 

Two  of  the  carotenoids  that  are  especially  plentiful  in  spinach  — lutein  and  zeaxanthin  — are  primary  antioxidants  in  several 
regions  of  the  eye,  including  the  retina  and  the  macula.  Although  we  haven't  seen  specific  studies  on  spinach  intake  and 
prevention  of  eye-related  problems  like  macular  degeneration,  we  have  seen  studies  showing  that  human  blood  levels  of  lutein 
can  be  increased  by  consumption  of  spinach  in  everyday  amounts.  We've  also  seen  at  least  one  group  of  researchers  suggesting 
that  spinach  has  a likely  role  to  play  in  prevention  of  eye  problems,  including  age-related  macular  degeneration. 

Helping  You  Bone  Up 

The  wealth  of  vitamin  K provided  by  spinach  is  important  for  maintaining  bone  health.  Vitamin  K1  helps  prevent  excessive 
activation  of  osteoclasts,  the  cells  that  break  down  bone.  Additionally,  friendly  bacteria  in  our  intestines  convert  vitamin  K1 
into  vitamin  K2,  which  activates  osteocalcin,  the  major  non-collagen  protein  in  bone.  Osteocalcin  anchors  calcium  molecules 
inside  of  the  bone.  All  of  these  vitamin  K-related  mechanisms  point  to  the  importance  of  vitamin  K-rich  foods  for  bone  health, 
and  it  is  difficult  to  find  vegetables  that  are  richer  in  vitamin  K than  spinach.  (On  our  World's  Healthiest  Foods  list,  only  kale 
provides  more  micrograms  of  vitamin  K per  cup.)  Spinach  is  also  an  excellent  source  of  other  bone-supportive  nutrients 
including  calcium  and  magnesium. 

So  while  spinach  probably  won't  make  you  super  strong  the  minute  you  eat  it,  as  it  did  for  Popeye,  it  will  promote  your  health 
and  vitality  in  many  other  ways.  It  seems  like  Popeye  was  pretty  smart  after  all. 

Description 

Calorie  for  calorie,  leafy  green  vegetables  like  spinach  with  its  delicate  texture  and  jade  green  color  provide  more  nutrients 
than  any  other  food.  Although  spinach  is  available  throughout  the  year,  its  season  runs  from  March  through  May  and  from 
September  through  October  when  it  is  the  freshest,  has  the  best  flavor,  and  is  most  readily  available.  Spinach  belongs  to  the 
same  family  ( Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae ) as  Swiss  chard  and  beets  and  has  the  scientific  name,  Spinacia  oleracea.  It 
shares  a similar  taste  profile  with  these  two  other  vegetables,  having  the  bitterness  of  beet  greens  and  the  slightly  salty  flavor  of 
Swiss  chard. 

Popeye  popularized  spinach,  but  it's  too  bad  he  ate  it  out  of  a can.  Fresh  spinach  retains  the  delicacy  of  texture  and  green  color 
that  is  lost  when  spinach  is  processed.  Raw  spinach  has  a mild,  slightly  sweet  taste  that  can  be  refreshing  in  salads,  while  its 
flavor  becomes  more  acidic  and  robust  when  it  is  cooked. 

There  are  three  different  types  of  spinach  generally  available.  Savoy  has  crisp,  creased  curly  leaves  that  have  a springy  texture. 
Smooth-leaf  has  flat,  unwrinkled,  spade-shaped  leaves,  while  semi-savoy  is  similar  in  texture  to  savoy  but  is  not  as  crinkled  in 
appearance.  Baby  spinach  is  great  for  use  in  salads  owing  to  its  taste  and  delicate  texture. 

History 

Spinach  is  thought  to  have  originated  in  ancient  Persia  (Iran).  Spinach  made  its  way  to  China  in  the  7th  century  when  the  king 
of  Nepal  sent  it  as  a gift  to  this  country.  Spinach  has  a much  more  recent  history  in  Europe  than  many  other  vegetables.  It  was 
only  brought  to  that  continent  in  the  11th  century,  when  the  Moors  introduced  it  into  Spain.  In  fact,  for  a while,  spinach  was 
known  as  "the  Spanish  vegetable"  in  England. 

Spinach  was  the  favorite  vegetable  of  Catherine  de  Medici,  a historical  figure  in  the  1 6th  century.  When  she  left  her  home  of 
Florence,  Italy,  to  marry  the  king  of  France,  she  brought  along  her  own  cooks,  who  could  prepare  spinach  the  ways  that  she 
especially  liked.  Since  this  time,  dishes  prepared  on  a bed  of  spinach  are  referred  to  as  "a  la  Florentine." 

Spinach  grows  well  in  temperate  climates.  Today,  the  United  States  and  the  Netherlands  are  among  the  largest  commercial 
producers  of  spinach. 


How  to  Select  and  Store 


Choose  spinach  that  has  vibrant  deep  green  leaves  and  stems  with  no  signs  of  yellowing.  The  leaves  should  look  fresh  and 
tender,  and  not  be  wilted  or  bruised.  Avoid  those  that  have  a slimy  coating  as  this  is  an  indication  of  decay. 

Do  not  wash  spinach  before  storing  as  the  exposure  to  water  encourages  spoilage.  Place  spinach  in  a plastic  storage  bag  and 
wrap  the  bag  tightly  around  the  spinach,  squeezing  out  as  much  of  the  air  as  possible.  Place  in  refrigerator  where  it  will  keep 
fresh  for  up  to  5 days. 

Avoid  storing  cooked  spinach  as  it  will  not  keep  very  well. 

How  to  Enjoy 

A Few  Quick  Serving  Ideas 

• Add  layers  of  spinach  to  your  next  lasagna  recipe. 

• Pine  nuts  are  a great  addition  to  cooked  spinach. 

• Spinach  salads  are  a classic  easy  and  delicious  meal  or  side  dish. 

WHFoods  Recipes  That  Feature  Spinach 

• Poached  Egg  over  Spinach 

• Poached  Eggs  over  Spinach  & Mushrooms 

• Mediterranean  Baby  Spinach  Salad 

• Warm  Spinach  Salad  with  Tuna 

• Indian-Stvle  Lentils 

• Figs.  Walnuts  and  Spinach  Salad 

• 1 -Minute  Spinach 

• Golden  Spinach  and  Sweet  Potato  Flealthv  Saute 

Safety 

Spinach  and  E.  coli 

Several  national  recalls  of  spinach-containing  products  between  2006-2013  have  raised  consumer  concerns  about  the  risk  of 
spinach  contamination  with  E.  coli  bacteria.  Of  special  concern  have  been  Shiga  toxin-producing  E.  coli  (STEC),  including  E. 
coli  0157:EI7.  Thorough  washing  of  contaminated  spinach  cannot  remove  E.  coli  0157:117.  However,  as  summarized  by  the 
U.S.  Food  and  Drug  Administration  (FDA),  "Cooking  fresh  spinach  at  160°F  (71°C)  for  15  seconds  will  kill  any  E.  coli 
0157:EI7  present."  The  cooking  method  we  recommend  on  our  website  for  spinach — a quick  boil  for  approximately  1 minute 
— greatly  exceeds  this  safety  standard. 

Because  many  people  enjoy  spinach  in  raw  form  (especially  baby  spinach),  we  are  often  asked  about  the  level  of  risk  involved 
with  consumption  of  raw  spinach.  While  we  have  not  seen  enough  data  to  provide  you  with  an  exact  risk  level  here,  there  is 
definitely  some  level  of  risk  involved — although  it  might  be  very  small — with  consumption  of  raw  spinach.  If  your  goal  is  to 
remove  this  risk  entirely,  your  best  approach  is  to  follow  our  quick  boil  cooking  method  for  spinach. 

In  the  case  of  certified  organic  raw  spinach  (and  other  certified  organic  raw  vegetables),  there  is  one  regulation  working  to  help 
lower  contamination  risk:  raw  animal  manure  cannot  be  used  less  than  120  days  prior  to  harvest  of  a certified  organic  food  if 
the  food  (like  spinach)  has  an  edible  portion  that  comes  into  contact  with  the  soil  or  soil  surface.  This  restriction  on  the  use  of 
raw  animal  manure  can  help  prevent  crops  like  spinach  from  being  contaminated  with  bacteria  like  E.  coli  0157 :H7.  In  the  case 
of  non-organic  raw  spinach,  there  can  also  be  reduction  of  risk  due  to  irradiation  of  the  spinach — a practice  allowed  by  the 
FDA  since  2008.  (Since  irradiation  is  a prohibited  practice  in  the  production  of  certified  organic  foods,  however,  certified 
organic  raw  spinach  is  not  irradiated.) 

Oxalate  Content 

Spinach  has  consistently  been  determined  to  have  high  oxalate  content.  Oxalates  are  naturally  occurring  organic  acids  found  in 
a wide  variety  of  foods,  and  in  the  case  of  certain  medical  conditions,  they  must  be  greatly  restricted  in  a meal  plan  to  prevent 


over-accumulation  inside  the  body.  Our  comprehensive  article  about  oxalates  will  provide  you  with  practical  and  detailed 
information  about  these  organic  acids,  food,  and  health. 

Nutritional  Profile 

Introduction  to  Food  Rating  System  Chart 

The  following  chart  shows  the  nutrients  for  which  this  food  is  either  an  excellent,  very  good  or  good  source.  Next  to  the 
nutrient  name  you  will  find  the  following  information:  the  amount  of  the  nutrient  that  is  included  in  the  noted  serving  of  this 
food;  the  %Daily  Value  (DV)  that  that  amount  represents  (similar  to  other  information  presented  in  the  website,  this  DV  is 
calculated  for  25-50  year  old  healthy  woman);  the  nutrient  density  rating;  and,  the  food's  World's  Healthiest  Foods  Rating. 
Underneath  the  chart  is  a table  that  summarizes  how  the  ratings  were  devised.  Read  detailed  information  on  our  Food  and 
Recipe  Rating  System. 


Spinach,  cooked 

1.00  cup  Calories:  41 

180.00  grams  GI:  very  low 

DRI/DV  Nutrient  World's  Healthiest 

Nutrient  Amount  (%)  Density  Foods  Rating 

vitamin  K 

888.48  meg 

987 

429.2 

excellent 

vitamin  A 

943.29  meg  RAE 

105 

45.6 

excellent 

maneanese 

1.68  mg 

84 

36.5 

excellent 

folate 

262.80  meg 

66 

28.6 

excellent 

maenesium 

156.60  mg 

39 

17.0 

excellent 

iron 

6.43  mg 

36 

15.5 

excellent 

copper 

0.31  mg 

34 

15.0 

excellent 

vitamin  B2 

0.42  mg 

32 

14.0 

excellent 

vitamin  B6 

0.44  mg 

26 

11.3 

excellent 

vitamin  E 

3.74  mg  (ATE) 

25 

10.8 

excellent 

calcium 

244.80  mg 

24 

10.6 

excellent 

DOtassium 

838.80  mg 

24 

10.4 

excellent 

vitamin  C 

17.64  mg 

24 

10.2 

excellent 

fiber 

4.32  g 

17 

7.5 

very  good 

phosphoms 

100.80  mg 

14 

6.3 

very  good 

vitamin  B 1 

0.17  mg 

14 

6.2 

very  good 

zinc 

1.37  mg 

12 

5.4 

very  good 

Drotein 

5-35  g 

11 

4.7 

very  good 

choline 

35.46  mg 

8 

3.6 

very  good 

omeea-3  fats 

0.17  g 

7 

3.1 

good 

vitamin  B3 

0.88  mg 

6 

2.4 

good 

pantothenic  acid 

0.26  mg 

5 

2.3 

good 

selenium 

2.70  meg 

5 

2.1 

good 

World's  Healthiest 
Foods  Rating 

Rule 

excellent 

DRI/D V>=75%  OR 
Density>=7.6  AND  DRI/D V>=  10% 

very  good 

DRI/DV>=50%  OR 
Density >=3.4  AND  DRI/D V>=5% 

good 

DRI/D V>=25%  OR 
Density>=1.5  AND  DRI/D V>=2.5% 

References 


• Asai  A,  Terasaki  M,  Nagao  A.  An  epoxide-furanoid  rearrangement  of  spinach  neoxanthin  occurs  in  the  gastrointestinal 
tract  of  mice  and  in  vitro:  formation  and  cytostatic  activity  of  neochrome  stereoisomers.  JNutr.  2004  Sep;134(9):2237- 
43.  2004.  PMID:15333710. 

• Asai  A,  Yonekura  L and  Nagao  A.  Low  bioavailability  of  dietary  epoxyxanthophylls  in  humans.  Br  J Nutr.  2008 
Aug;  100(2):273-277.  2008. 

• Chung  HY,  Rasmussen  HM,  Johnson  EJ.  Lutein  bioavailability  is  higher  from  lutein-enriched  eggs  than  from 
supplements  and  spinach  in  men.  JNutr.  2004  Aug;134(8):1887-93.  2004.  PMID:  15284371. 

• Edenharder  R,  Keller  G,  Platt  KL,  Unger  KK.  Isolation  and  characterization  of  structurally  novel  antimutagenic 
flavonoids  from  spinach  (Spinacia  oleracea).  J Agric  Food  Chem  2001  Jun;49(6):2767-73.  2001.  PMID:  12950. 

• Gates  MA,  Tworoger  SS,  Hecht  JL,  De  Vivo  I,  Rosner  B,  Hankinson  SE.  A prospective  study  of  dietary  flavonoid  intake 
and  incidence  of  epithelial  ovarian  cancer.  Int  J Cancer.  2007  Apr  30;  [Epub  ahead  of  print],  2007.  PMID:  17471564. 

• genannt  Bonsmann  SS,  Walczyk  T,  Renggli  S et  al.  Oxalic  acid  does  not  influence  nonhaem  iron  absorption  in  humans: 
a comparison  of  kale  and  spinach  meals.  Eur  J Clin  Nutr.  2008  Mar;62(3):336-41.  Epub  2007  Apr  18.  2008. 

• Longnecker  MP,  Newcomb  PA,  Mittendorf  R,  et  al.  Intake  of  carrots,  spinach,  and  supplements  containing  vitamin  A in 
relation  to  risk  of  breast  cancer.  Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev  1997  Nov;6(ll):887-92.  1997.  PMID:  12980. 

• Lucarini  M,  Lanzi  S,  D'Evoli  L et  al.  Intake  of  vitamin  A and  carotenoids  from  the  Italian  population— results  of  an 
Italian  total  diet  study.  Int  J Vitam  Nutr  Res.  2006  May;76(3):  103-9.  2006. 

• Makiko  I,  Mutsuko  T,  and  Takashi  N.  Influence  of  the  Amount  of  Boiling  Water  on  the  Sensory  Evaluation,  Oxalic  Acid 
and  Potassium  Content  of  Boiled  Spinach.  Journal  of  Cookery  Science  of  Japan  2005,  38(4):343-349.  2005. 

• Manach  C,  Scalbert  A,  Morand  C,  Remesy  C,  Jimenez  L.  Polyphenols:  food  sources  and  bioavailability.  Am  J Clin  Nutr. 
2004  May;79(5):727-47.  2004.  PMID:15113710. 

• Morris  MC,  Evans  DA,  Tangney  CC,  Bienias  JL,  Wilson  RS.  Associations  of  vegetable  and  fruit  consumption  with  age- 
related  cognitive  change.  Neurology.  2006  Oct  24;67(8):1370-6.  2006.  PMID:  17060562. 

• Okazaki  K,  Oka  N,  Shinano  T et  al.  Differences  in  the  metabolite  profiles  of  spinach  (Spinacia  oleracea  L.)  leaf  in 
different  concentrations  of  nitrate  in  the  culture  solution.  Plant  Cell  Physio.  2008  Feb;49(2):170-7.  Epub  2007  Dec  17. 
2008. 

• Song  W,  Derito  CM,  Liu  MK  et  al.  Cellular  antioxidant  activity  of  common  vegetables.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  2010  Jun 
9;58(1 1 ):662 1 -9.  2010. 

• Tang  G,  Qin  J,  Dolnikowski  GG  et  al.  Spinach  or  carrots  can  supply  significant  amounts  of  vitamin  A as  assessed  by 
feeding  with  intrinsically  deuterated  vegetables.  Am  J Clin  Nutr.  2005  Oct;82(4):821-8.  2005. 

• Wang  Y,  Chang  CF,  Chou  J,  Chen  HL,  Deng  X,  Harvey  BK,  Cadet  JL,  Bickford  PC.  Dietary  supplementation  with 
blueberries,  spinach,  or  spirulina  reduces  ischemic  brain  damage.  Exp  Neurol.  2005  May;193(l):75-84.  2005. 

PMID:  158 17266. 

• Yang  Y,  Marczak  ED,  Yokoo  M,  Usui  H,  Yoshikawa  M.  Isolation  and  antihypertensive  effect  of  angiotensin  I-converting 
enzyme  (ACE)  inhibitory  peptides  from  spinach  Rubisco.  J Agric  Food  Chem.  Aug  13;51(17):4897-902.  2003. 

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Squash,  summer 

The  delicate  flavor,  soft  shell  and  creamy  white  flesh  of  summer  squash  is  a perfect  addition  to  any  summer  meal.  While 
especially  plentiful  in  the  U.S.  marketplace  during  the  summer  months,  summer  squash  is  actually  available  through  the  year. 
Summer  squashes,  members  of  the  Cucurbitaceae  family  and  relatives  of  both  the  melon  and  the  cucumber,  come  in  many 
different  varieties.  While  each  variety  may  have  a distinct  shape,  color,  size  and  flavor,  all  varieties  share  some  common 
characteristics.  Regardless  of  variety,  all  parts  of  summer  squash  are  edible,  including  the  flesh,  seeds  and  skin.  Some  varieties 
of  squash  also  produce  edible  flowers.  Unlike  winter  squash,  summer  squash  are  more  fragile  and  cannot  be  stored  for  long 
periods  of  time  unless  frozen.  For  Native  Americans,  squashes  were  considered  as  one  of  the  "three  sisters"  along  with  corn 
(maize)  and  beans. 

What's  New  and  Beneficial  about  Summer  Squash 

• Although  summer  squash  has  long  been  recognized  as  an  important  food  source  of  carotenoids,  only  recently  have 
research  studies  documented  just  how  fantastic  summer  squash  can  be  when  it  comes  to  these  key  antioxidants.  For 
some  groups  of  study  participants,  summer  squash  turns  out  to  be  the  primary  food  source  of  alpha-carotene  and  beta- 
carotene  in  the  entire  diet!  For  lutein,  zeaxanthin,  and  beta-cryptoxanthin  (three  other  health-supportive  carotenoids) 
summer  squash  also  comes  out  among  the  top  three  food  sources  in  several  studies. 

• When  we  think  about  food  and  antioxidants,  what  first  comes  to  mind  might  be  fresh  fruit  and  vitamin  C,  or  bright 
orange  carrots  and  beta-carotene.  Yet  several  recent  studies  have  underscored  the  unique  contribution  made  by  summer 
squash  to  our  antioxidant  requirements.  While  not  as  rich  in  some  of  the  more  widely-publicized  antioxidants  like  beta- 
carotene,  summer  squash  is  a very  strong  source  of  other  key  antioxidant  nutrients,  including  the  carotenoids  lutein  and 
zeaxanthin.  Since  the  skin  of  this  food  is  particularly  antioxidant-rich,  it's  worth  leaving  the  skin  intact  and  purchasing 
organic  summer  squash  to  help  avoid  potential  unwanted  contaminants. 

• We  tend  to  think  about  squashes,  both  summer  and  winter,  as  starchy  vegetables.  This  thinking  is  correct,  since  about  85- 
90%  of  the  total  calories  in  squashes  (as  a group)  come  from  carbohydrate,  and  about  half  of  this  carbohydrate  is  starch- 
like in  composition  and  composed  of  polysaccharides.  But  we  also  tend  to  think  about  polysaccharides  as  stagnant 
storage  forms  for  starch  that  cannot  do  much  for  us  in  terms  of  unique  health  benefits.  Here  our  thinking  is  way  off 
target!  Recent  research  has  shown  that  the  polysaccharides  in  summer  squash  include  an  unusual  amount  of  pectin — a 
specially  structured  polysaccharide  that  often  include  special  chains  of  D-galacturonic  acid  called  homogalacturonan.  It's 
this  unique  polysaccharide  composition  in  summer  squash  that  is  being  linked  in  repeated  animal  studies  to  protection 
against  diabetes  and  better  regulation  of  insulin.  We  expect  to  see  future  studies  on  humans  confirming  these  same  types 
of  benefits  from  consumption  of  summer  squash. 


Summer  Squash,  sliced, 
1.00  cup 
(180.00  grams) 

cooked 

Calories:  36 

GI:  verv  low 

Nutrient 

DRI/DV 

copper 

21% 

manganese 

19% 

m 

vitamin  C 

13% 

magnesium 

11% 

fiber 

10% 

phosphorus 

10% 

potassium 

10% 

folate 

9% 

vitamin  B 1 

7% 

vitamin  K 

7% 

vitamin  B6 

7% 

vitamin  B3 

6% 

zinc 

6% 

omega-3  fats 

6% 

calcium 

5% 

pantothenic  acid 

5% 

vitamin  B2 

5% 

iron 

4% 

choline 

3% 

| protein 

Health  Benefits 


3% 


As  a general  rule,  summer  squash  has  not  been  as  thoroughly  studied  from  a health  benefit  standpoint  as  many  of  the  other 
World's  Healthiest  Foods.  Much  of  the  research  evidence  specific  to  summer  squash  and  its  health  benefits  comes  from  animal 
versus  human  studies,  and  these  research  studies  often  look  at  squash  as  an  overall  food  group  rather  than  examining  specific 
benefits  from  summer  (versus  winter)  squash.  However,  in  spite  of  these  research  limitations,  there  are  still  well-documented 
health  benefits  that  are  offered  to  us  by  summer  squash! 

Antioxidant  Benefits 

No  category  of  health  benefits  from  summer  squash  is  better  researched  than  the  category  of  antioxidant  benefits.  As  an 
excellent  source  of  manganese  and  a very  good  source  of  vitamin  C.  summer  squash  provides  us  with  a great  combination  of 
conventional  antioxidant  nutrients.  But  it  also  contains  an  unusual  amount  of  other  antioxidant  nutrients,  including  the 
carotenoids  lutein  and  zeaxanthin.  These  antioxidants  are  especially  helpful  in  antioxidant  protection  of  the  eye,  including 
protection  against  age-related  macular  degeneration  and  cataracts.  While  we  often  think  first  about  carrots  as  providing  us  with 
antioxidant-related  eye  health  benefits,  we  also  need  to  start  including  summer  squash  in  our  list  of  antioxidant-rich  foods  that 
can  provide  us  with  health  benefits  in  this  area. 

If  properly  handled  and  prepared,  summer  squash  also  provides  us  with  special  antioxidant  advantages  in  terms  of  its 
antioxidant  stability.  Recent  research  has  confirmed  strong  retention  of  antioxidant  activity  in  summer  squash  after  steaming. 
Research  has  also  confirmed  excellent  retention  of  antioxidant  activity  in  summer  squash  after  freezing.  These  findings  mean 
that  the  antioxidant  benefits  of  summer  squash  are  available  to  us  under  a wide  variety  of  circumstances.  We  have  the  option  of 
enjoying  raw  summer  squash,  briefly  steamed  summer  squash,  and  previously  frozen  summer  squash  while  still  coming  away 
with  well-documented  antioxidant  health  benefits. 

To  obtain  full  antioxidant  benefits  from  summer  squash,  we  need  to  eat  not  only  the  flesh,  but  also  the  skin  and  the  seeds. 

Many  valuable  antioxidant  nutrients  are  found  in  those  portions  of  the  food,  and  studies  document  their  importance  in  the 
overall  antioxidant  activity  of  summer  squash.  Purchasing  organic  summer  squash  is  your  best  way  to  lower  risk  of  potentially 
unwanted  contaminants  (like  pesticides)  on  the  skin  of  this  vegetable.  While  purchasing  organic,  it's  still  worthwhile  to  use  a 
natural  bristle  brush  and  gently  cleanse  the  skin  of  the  summer  squash  under  cold  running  water. 

Blood  Sugar  Benefits 

The  list  of  nutrients  in  summer  squash  related  to  healthy  blood  sugar  regulation  is  a long  one.  Metabolism  of  sugar  in  the  body 
requires  ample  presence  of  many  B-complex  vitamins,  and  most  of  these  B-complex  vitamins  are  found  in  valuable  amounts  in 
summer  squash.  Included  here  are  the  B-vitamins  folate,  B6,  Bl,  B2,  B3,  and  choline.  Also  important  in  blood  sugar 
metabolism  are  the  minerals  zinc  and  magnesium,  as  well  as  omega-3  fatty  acids,  and  all  of  these  nutrients  are  provided  by 
summer  squash. 

A mainstay  of  dietary  protection  fro